Other States

Protest against move to shift heritage park site in Manipur

Brow antlered deer are also known as sangai. In the wild, this endangered deer species is found only in a lake in Manipur. File

Brow antlered deer are also known as sangai. In the wild, this endangered deer species is found only in a lake in Manipur. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Members of seven youth clubs, people from all walks of life and women activists in the villages surrounding the 40-sq. km Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) in Manipur have now taken up the cudgels to ensure that the BJP-led government does not shift the proposed heritage park from the government-approved site. The villagers on Tuesday took out a demonstration near the KLNP, 53 km away from Imphal in the Bishnupur district, opposing the plan to shift the site elsewhere. They contend that the people of the proposed site are not associated with steps for the protection of the endangered brow-antlered deer (Sangai) in the KNLP.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren recently said, “The government has set aside ₹46 crore for the construction of the heritage park. There will be traditional thatched houses of the different communities in this heritage park”. It was expected that the museum of the Indian National Army where the first Indian flag of Independence was hoisted near the Loktak lake and the heritage park will attract tourists from the country and abroad.

Spokesperson of the joint seven youths’ clubs N. Ranbir said, “It is deplorable that politics has spoilt the atmosphere. Without giving any credible and acceptable explanation, the government had taken up steps to shift the site to a place six km away from the KLNP. The proposed site has no connection with efforts to save the endangered deer. On the other hand, the people in surrounding villages have been doing everything possible to protect the deer. Will there be any meaning now for celebrating ‘Sangai festival’ every year to create awareness among the people and attract tourists?”

So far, the Chief Minister and others have not commented on the issue.

Mr. Ranbir said, “The government must take a positive step in this regard by Thursday (June 23). If the government fails despite the demand of all villagers around the KLNP, all government offices there shall be closed down by the villagers. Besides no tourist shall be allowed to enter the KLNP and nearby tourist spots.”

The KLNF is the natural habitat of the brow-antlered deer, whose population is less than 300 and is listed in the red book. Wildlife enthusiasts fear the actual number of deer in the KLNF must be alarmingly low since some poachers allegedly get ‘complete freedom’ to kill this ‘dancing deer’. Some months ago, one person was caught with a sack of venison. The government cannot ban the entry of fishermen into the Loktak lake, including the KLNP, as the villagers have been fishing there since time immemorial and have no alternative source of income. Some poachers enter the Loktak lake, the largest freshwater lake in the northeast, masquerading as fishermen to kill the deer.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2022 1:25:11 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/protest-against-move-to-shift-heritage-park-site-in-manipur/article65551842.ece