Protest against relocation of heritage park site to Manipur

The BJP-led government. had announced that a heritage park would be established near Keibul Lamjao National Park in Bishnupur district.

The BJP-led government. had announced that a heritage park would be established near Keibul Lamjao National Park in Bishnupur district.

Members of seven youth clubs, people from all walks of life and women activists in the villages surrounding the 40 square meters. km Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) in Manipur has now taken the cudgels to ensure that the BJP-led government does not move the proposed heritage park from the government-approved site. Villagers staged a protest near KLNP, 53 km from Imphal in Bishnupur district on Tuesday, opposing plans to move the site elsewhere. They argue that the inhabitants of the proposed site are not associated with the protection measures of the endangered superciliary horned 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 roof houses of the different communities in this heritage park.” The Indian National Army Museum where India’s first independence flag was hoisted near Loktak Lake and the heritage park were expected to attract tourists from home and abroad.

The spokesperson for the seven spouses’ youth clubs, N. Ranbir, said: “It is unfortunate that politics has spoiled the atmosphere. Without giving any credible and acceptable explanation, the government had taken steps to move the site six kilometers from the KLNP. The nominated site has no connection with efforts to save the endangered deer. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the surrounding villages have done everything possible to protect the deer. Will it make sense now to celebrate “Sangai Festival” every year to raise awareness and attract tourists?

So far, the chief minister and others have not commented on the matter.

Mr. Ranbir said, “The government must take a positive step in this regard by Thursday (June 23). If the government fails despite the request of all the villagers around the KLNP, all the government offices there will be shut down by the villagers. Also, no tourists will be allowed to enter KLNP and nearby tourist sites.

KLNF is the natural habitat of the superciliary horn deer, which has a population of less than 300 and is listed in the red book. Wildlife enthusiasts fear that the actual number of deer in the KLNF is alarming, as some poachers are said to have “complete freedom” to kill this “dancing deer”. A few months ago, a person was surprised with a bag of game. The government cannot ban fishermen from entering Loktak Lake, including the KLNP, because the villagers have been fishing there since time immemorial and have no other source of income. Some poachers enter Lake Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in the northeast, posing as fishermen to kill deer.

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