KARANG (MANIPUR), April 24 - People living at Karang, which is India’s first cashless island located in the middle of Loktak lake, are still facing hardships due to climate change and factors relating to the commissioning of the Loktak Project in the 1980s, according to village elders.
Adding to their woes, the villagers have spotted a new kind of unknown aquatic insects around the island in the recent past, besides experiencing a rise in the mosquito population.
Village elders and representatives of the local club of the picturesque lake island were interacting with a team of journalists who visited the island last month.
The island was declared the first cashless island in India by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under its Digital India Programme in January 2017. The journalists’ team visited the island as part of a two-day media workshop on climate change reporting organised by the Khelen Thokchom Trust in association with the Directorate of Environment and Centre for Media Studies, Delhi.
A village elder told the visiting journalists that the environment around Karang island has changed, affecting the livelihood of the villagers after the commissioning of the Loktak Project.
President of Karang Island Development Organisation (KIDO) S Kheda told the reporters that the income of the fishing community of the island has also declined. Subsequently, the school dropout rate has started rising in the last few years.
“The Government needs to take up some development schemes for the welfare of the fishing community of the island and others,” he said. Citing degradation of the lake environment, he said, “Unlike in the past, the villagers cannot earn much.” Earlier, a fisherman used to earn around Rs 500 daily by selling fish and aquatic plants available in the lake.
The villagers, particularly the younger generation, have pleaded for development programmes including skill development for improvement of their livelihood. Karang is inhabited by about 3,000 villagers, according to KIDO.