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Environment issues featured in Manipur poll Manifestos

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By a Special Correspondent
Imphal, Feb 25:

Unlike previous elections, the environment-related issues particularly the conservation of the state’s iconic Loktak Lake has been prominently featured in all the manifestos of political parties which were released ahead of the ensuing 12th Manipur assembly elections.
Manipur will go to polls on February 28 at 38 assembly constituencies and March 5 at 22 at constituencies while the counting will take place on March 10 to elect 60 MLAs.
In its election manifesto which was released 11 days ahead of the first phase of the elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promises to ensure the protection and preservation of rich and unique natural resources of Manipur.
In a 30-paged manifesto having 20 point key promises in a separate leaflet, the saffron party which fielded their candidates in all 60 assembly constituencies, promises “to formulate a comprehensive action plan/policy to safeguard the endangered species and flora and fauna of the state.”
Promising to preserve, develop and maintain the state’s iconic gem, the Loktak Lake “to ensure its becomes an iconic wetland site of South East Asia,” it also promises to overall development of Lake by restructuring Loktak Development Authority(LDA) for comprehensive management of lake and its associated wetlands and revisit the state water policy for overall improvement of water resources.
BJP also promises “to convert Champu Khangpok floating village at Loktak Lake to Heritage floating village to conserve and promote the local heritage.”
In 2011,the LDA had removed most of the floating fishing huts of Loktak Lake, a designated Ramsar Site, which is spread across three valley districts of Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal,covering an area of 236 sq km(LDA).
The opposition Congress which fielded 54 candidates, also promises “to create State Forest Development Corporation and Loktak Lake research & training centre” besides forming Manipur state energy policy if they are voted to power this time.
In its 30-paged manifesto having 30 promises with 11 goals in 37 different sectors, released on February 4, the grand old party promises Mountain economy for an integrated development of the land and people of the hill districts besides promising to introduce sustainable forest certification to identify and label genuine sustainable forest.
The National People’s Party (NPP), a key ally of the ruling BJP led coalition government in Manipur, in its 25-paged manifesto promises “to review Loktak Protection Act of 2006 and amend the legislation to make it more scientific and people centric and align it with Ramsar convention and the national wetlands rules 2017.”
Notably both congress and NPP promised to restructure the overall functioning of LDA “for the comprehensive conservation and management of Loktak Lake and its associated wetlands”. 
On the Climate Change sector, NPP, the first political party to release the elections manifesto here, also promises to review redraft and update the state action plan on climate change according to the changing needs.
Janata Dal (united) which fielded 38 candidates, promises to promote Geographical Indication (GI) status of local species and grow them extensively in the state as GI tags have great potential to play a major role in trade while the Nationalist Congress Party which nominated 8 candidates echoes that the ‘aged old woods’ to be preserved.
Interestingly Communist Party of India, a pre-poll partner of Congress in the ensuing elections, promises to take special steps to protect and preserve forest to face global climate change.

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