Manipur’s iconic Loktak Lake is a vision belittling superlatives. Designated by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance, this unique ecosystem has for centuries nurtured a harmonious environment to both humans and wildlife. Referred to as ‘the Mother’ by the local Meitei fishermen, the lake has been the harbinger of abundance and prosperity for its human populace.
However everything changed with the commissioning of Ithai Barrage in 1983 as part of an ambitious hydroelectric power project. The wetland’s ecosystem, attuned to seasonal shifts in water level, inundated permanently and its distinct habitat altered forever. This came at a heavy cost to the livelihood of the Meitei fishermen. Life for the community today isn’t what it used to be.