By: WAHENGBAM RORRKYCHAND
It would be surprised to learn that people of Champu Khangpok village stood in the middle of Loktak lake has been deprived of the voting rights since the time Manipur become a full-fledged state.
The phumdi (floating biomass) village has a population of around 700-800 people according to 2001 census of Manipur, and is located under Moirang Sub-division of Bishnupur district. According to officials of SDO Moirang the village is still a revenue land. However, records to prove the area as revenue land are not available at the office.
Authority cancelled voting right of the inhabitants in the year 1973 claiming that they were enrolled in other village too. After which, they declared that that village is no more a revenue area.
‘Forget about basic amenities, we are the citizen of this great democracy, who does not enjoy the right to vote and even the inherent right to life,’ Kh Deben said.
Officials of Loktak Development Authority (LDA) and state government burnt down around 779 huts built over phumdi (biomass) in the lake from November 15-23, 2011. The villagers remembered the incident as most horrified days.
“Is the Loktak Project Act 2006 has the power to burn down dwelling huts or is it above the supreme law?” Champu Khangpok villagers asked.
Not only burning down the huts, the LDA burnt down all household items like fishing equipments, school uniform for children, cloths, utensils etc. And, adding miseries to the woes, no arrangement has been made for the loss, Kh Deben of All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen’s Union, Manipur (ALLFUM) told Imphal Times during an interview at Langolsabi area.
“Terming us as encroachers, they (LDA) notified in local newspapers to vacate our house to dismantle huts and vacate the area. With a large number of state police force the LDA officials came and destroyed everything; but they seem to forget the fact that the area they are asking to vacate is not reached by newspaper”, a fisherwoman and a mother of 4 children said while recalling the suffering of fishermen during the eviction drive.
They also said that the government and LDA authority only existed to terrorize innocent fishermen but not to serve the people.
After the eviction there are around 333 families who are still in the lake. But not a single toilet is visible in any of the housing. The most concern is to basic sanitation for the hut dwellers of Loktak lake.
On asked about the way how they discharge their excreta, they equivocally replied that the entire lake is their toilet.