In a resolute stand against the proposed extension of the Loktak Hydroelectric Power Project by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC), the All Lake Areas Fishers Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM) has vehemently condemned what it deems an arbitrary move by NHPC. The NHPC is seeking approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India, to extend the lifespan of the Loktak Hydroelectric Multipurpose Project for another 25 years.

ALLAFUM expressed strong disapproval, citing the lack of consultation with the Manipur Government and the thousands of fisher and farmer families who have borne the brunt of the Loktak hydro project since its inception in 1983.

In a released statement, ALLAFUM questioned the motives of NHPC, criticizing the corporation for failing to inform key stakeholders, including the Loktak Development Authority, the Manipur Government, and the Loktak fishing community. The Ithai Barrage, a man-made structure integral to the project, has been a contentious issue for nearly four decades.

The fishing community demanded transparency from NHPC regarding its plans for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the thousands impacted by the project. Additionally, they urged the corporation to outline measures to restore the freshwater lake to a near-natural state, which has been compromised due to human-led engineering interventions over the past forty years.

ALLAFUM’s stand is clear: NHPC must address concerns about ecological and human disasters resulting from the Loktak project before proceeding with any extension plans. The community, which has already borne the brunt of the project, refuses to be further exploited for the next two decades or more.

The release highlighted the acute suffering of the Loktak fishing community, pointing to a decline in fish population directly linked to the Ithai Barrage. The lake is grappling with siltation, pollution, and eutrophication, leading to the disappearance of native vegetation with food and fodder value. Massive biodiversity loss has also been attributed to the Loktak hydro project.

ALLAFUM issued a call to the Government of Manipur, urging prompt redressal of grievances before any decision regarding the Loktak hydro project’s extension is made. The fishing community insists that NHPC must not be allowed to extend the project’s lifespan without addressing the concerns of the affected population.