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All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen Union Manipur (ALLAFUM)

 

All Loktak Areas Fishermens Union Manipur

1. Name of the Organisation: All Loktak Areas Fishermens Union Manipur.
2. Address: Head office: Thanga, Branch office: Champu Khangpok Village, Langol-Sabi Leikai, PO- Moirang, PS- Keibul Lamjao, District: Bishnupur, State – Manipur
3. Nature of the Organisation: Union
4. Year of Establishment: 2011 (Under Labour Department )
5. Registration Number: 735 of 2011
6. Name and designation of the office bearers:
     a. President: Kh. Deven Singh
     b. Vice President: N. Thasana Devi
     c. Secretary: Oinam Rajen Singh
     d. Asst Secretary: H. Kabita Devi
     e. Joint Secretary: H. Thambousana Singh
     f. Treasurer: O. Thambansang
     g. Asst Treasurer: M. Shanti Devi
     h. Joint Treasurer: H. Chaoba Devi
     i. Publicity Secreatary: O. Nabachandra Singh
     j. Public Coordinator: Haobijam Birmangal Singh
     k. Assistant Coordinator: Salam Momon Singh

7. Coverage Area: Whole of Loktak Lake Fisheries

8. Members : 1000

9. Guiding Principles: Conservation and sustainable use of Natural Resources and the Environment.

10. Main Issues: The natural fresh water Loktak Lake of Manipur is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. It provides a source of livelihood to more than three lakh people living in and around it. It supports rich floral and faunal biodiversity including Brow Antlered Deer (Sangai) of Keibul Lamjao National Park. Apart from being a source of livelihood, it also performed functions of water storage,flood mitigation, water purification, stabilisation of local climatic condition etc.

The fishery practices followed in the lake are predominantly capture oriented and traditional.  Thirly kinds of fishing techniques are in vogue in the lake. Fishing crafts are dug out canoes.  Fishing gears employed are wounding gears (Barbed and non barbed), spears, pole and line, haps, cast nets, drag nets, gill nets, encircling nets and lift nets. Most of these are similar to or variants of those used elsewhere in the country. However, the rnost cortspicuous fishing method in the lake is fish aggregation and capture (Athaphum).  The lake supports 54 species of fishes, including seven exotic forms, representing 18 families. Of these 15 species are commercially important.

Most of the threats to Loktak Lake and its Fisheries are anthropogenic and centre around the Ithai dam constructed for the Loktak Hydroelectric Project. It has stopped natural flushing and water fluctuation as well as stock replenishment by Manipur River. Resulting water stagnation, change in circulation and mixing of water, sedimentation etc. have adversely affected the water quality. No management of sustainable fisheries, an open access regime, pollution and other threats like tourism and establishment of inland waterways are looming large on Loktak and its traditional fishing communities.

11. Main Activities with Highlights:

In 2011, over a thousand indigenous fishing folk – Meiteis, were evicted when more than 700 floating huts or Khangpokshang, built over Phumdis (floating plant mass on Loktak Lake) had been burnt down by Loktak Development Authority (LDA), a state run agency. The burning down of the floating huts was done in accordance with the provisions of the ill conceived Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, 2006, that prohibited dwellings on the phumdis and the dwellers were termed occupiers.

The Meiteis of Manipur fought all odds to continue living on the floating huts of Loktak, upholding their age-old way of living and fishing in the face of tremendous hardship. Apart from torching their dwellings, fishing gears and nets of the communities, their only means to catch fish from the Loktak wetlands were also burned and this had left the community having no means to find food for survival.

The displaced fishing families were given shelter under the aegis of ALLAFUM. A case against the then state government was filed in Asian Human Rights Commission for violating “right to life”, and “right to adequate housing” as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

It would be surprising to learn that the dwellers of Champu Khangpok village, who stayedd in the middle of Loktak Lake, have been deprived of voting rights since the time Manipur became full-fledged state. As per Census of 2001, the phumdi village has a population of 700-800 and is located under Moirang subdivision of Bishnupur district. The authority failed to take any substantial decision for re-enrolling their names in voter list, even after knowing that their names had been deleted from the list since 1973. Since its inception, ALLAFUM became the voice of these villagers who, despite being Indian citizen, lack one of the basic rights of a citizen, the voting right.

ALLAFUM, in collaboration with People Resources Development Association, an active NGO in the province, has set up country’s first floating elementary school “‘Loktak Elementary Floating School’, a community initiative school for the children (mostly the dropouts) of Champu Khangpok floating village – at Langolsabi Leikai of Champu Khangpok in northern part of Manipur’s Loktak lake. Most of the villagers of Champu Khangpok are uneducated and mostly depend on fishing as meagre source of income. Being unable to send their children to another place, they decided to open up a primary school at their place. At present the school has 25 students (mostly dropouts) and 2 teachers.

The helpless fisher folk of Loktak, living there since time immemorial, are in dire problem. Dwindling fish catch with every passing day is enforcing them to look for other livelihood options. After Loktak had been declared “a wetland of international importance”, government began to take steps to clear the lake of human encroachment in order to preserve the wetland. Unfortunately, instead of including the fishermen in the conservation process, the local government passed act that evicted them from their age-old dwelling.

ALLAFUM is the voice of the oppressed fishermen that deserves to be heard. In order to strengthen the union, ALLAFUM joined the National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland) to raise their voice in the national level.

A Song Dedicated To Loktak Lake
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