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| Last Updated:08/12/2021

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Biomass chunks cut off Covid-free Karang Island

 Source: Chronicle News Service / Sonia Sorensangbam

Imphal, June 07 2021: Though Karang villagers manage to be free from Covid-19 infection during the second wave of the pandemic so far, the island village situated in the middle of Loktak Lake is entering into a seasonal slumber phase with the floating biomass in the largest freshwater lake of North East starting to surround the island blocking its waterways that connect with the rest of the state.

The People's Chronicle visited the island village to take stock of the situation and understand how the tiny village under Thanga assembly constituency in Bishnupur district manages to keep itself safe from Covid-19.Though the village, which has a population of around 3500 people, had its experience with the virus in the first wave, the local Covid Task Force has been taking up extra vigil to keep the virus at bay and it has been successful so far.

However, it is not the fear of the contagion that haunts the island villagers but the phase of seasonal slumber approaching fast that will force the villagers to stay disconnected from the rest of the state for around half a year.

For every year, the villagers have been facing this phase.

Any attempt to come out of the village due to unavoidable reasons is full of danger and uncertainties.

This year too, the season is approaching and the villagers are anxious thinking how they will survive the next six months by remaining disconnected from the rest of the world after facing the Covid related curfew that is already making their lives miserable.

According to Karang Island Development Organisation advisor Haobijam Geetajen, the waterways that connect the village with other parts of the state open for six months and remain close for six months due to blockage by the floating biomass.

In case of emergency or unavoidable situation, they have to push away the biomass somehow to make way.

There had been several instances of people dying on the way to hospital as they often got stuck in the middle of the lake when it became impossible to clear the biomass.

Karang is connected with Thanga Huirem, Chingjin Mamang, Sendra, Phubala, Ningthoukhong, Mayang Imphal and Chingthi by boat.

Though motorboat is a faster means of transport, they often face inconveniences due to fishing nets used by fishermen.

The villagers use the lake water for their consumption after distillation by using alum.

However, oil remnants and wastes released from the motor boats are polluting the water.

Though Loktak Lake is an inseparable component of the state's history, past, present and future as well as its biodiversity, the state government often ignore the plights of the people living in and around the lake.

The villagers depend on fishing for their survival.

However, the pandemic and related restrictions have forced the villagers to put on hold their livelihood activities.

Despite being a Covid free village, the residents are worried about the days ahead when they would remain disconnected.

They are deeply concerned over how they will survive the next six months since they could not stock essential commodities to last the six months, Geetajen said.

Regarding the fight against Covid-19, Geetajen told TPC that vaccination programme is going on in Karang PHC.

The local task force keeps strict vigil, especially on those entering the village and against gathering among the villagers.

He then drew attention of the SP, DC and CMO of Bishnupur district for further assistance to the Covid task force to keep the village away from the pandemic.