Tripura’s Rudrasagar lake to be conserved

September 8th, 2008 - 11:33 am ICT by IANS  

Agartala, Sep 8 (IANS) Among three wetlands in the northeast that will be conserved under a Rs.150-million government project is Tripura’s Rudrasagar lake, large parts of which have been encroached upon despite being home to the splendid Neermahal palace.Deepor Beel in Assam and Loktak lake in Manipur are the other lakes that have been brought under the project, according to the union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF).

“As part of international efforts on climate change, protection of biodiversity, migratory species and world heritage, such type of action plan has been taken on a priority basis,” said an MEF report made available to IANS.

“In the action plan, provisions were also made on involving the participation of the communities in the conservation process and find ways to upgrade the livelihood of people living around these wetlands,” the report added.

Rudrasagar lake is located 55 km west of Agartala. Erstwhile Tripura king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur had built the magnificent water palace Neermahal in 1930 in the midst of Rudrasagar as his summer residence. Having a water area of 5.3 sq km, it is among India’s national lakes.

“The Rs.50-million action plan undertaken for the all-round development of the Rudrasagar would be completed within three years,” Sashi Prakash, Tripura’s chief secretary, told IANS.

Conservationists have urged the Tripura government to preserve and protect Neermahal, eastern India’s lone water palace, from encroachers. It is in fact the second of its kind in the country after the Lake Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan.

“Half of Rudrasagar has been encroached upon by farmers and other people,” said Jiten Paul, veteran journalist and president of the Mukta Manch, a forum of environmentalists, intellectuals and academics.

“Two brick kilns and paddy fields have sprung up in the Rudrasagar area.”

A blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture and about 400 metres in length, Neermahal has 24 rooms with provisions for the private quarters of the king, his family and retinue of servants.

Rudrasagar is one of northeast’s favourite tourist destinations.

“We have urged the chief minister to personally intervene and take suitable action to protect the heritage of the state,” said Arun Nath, convenor of the forum.

The Mukta Manch has demanded a white paper from the government on the status of the Rudrasagar and Neermahal.

The central government will also develop the Loktak lake near Moirang in Manipur. It is the largest freshwater lake in the northeast and is also called a ‘floating lake’ because of a mass of floating vegetation on it called “phoomdies”.

Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake, is one of the largest and most important lakes in the Brahmaputra valley in Assam.

All the three lakes are categorised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

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