Encroachers told to vacate or face the consequences
STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 10th Apr: While expressing dismay over misinterpretation of the government’s eviction drive as targeting of a particular community, revenue minister K Shyam affirmed that there is no question of relenting from the campaign to remove all unauthorised structures and settlements from reserved forest areas and agricultural fields.
Speaking to newspersons on Tuesday amid reports of stray violence in the first few hours of shutdown/strike called by All Manipur Muslim Organisation Co-ordinating Committee from 6 am Tuesday, Shyam said that the eviction drives are being carried out under the Manipur Conservation of Paddy land & Wetland Act 2014.
While eviction drive in forest and agricultural areas is to prevent encroachment in reserved forest area and check shrinking of agricultural land, the purpose for dismantling houses from three revenue villages within Imphal East district is to develop a compact quarters for accommodating the people’s representatives, he said.
Expressing resentment over spreading of false rumours and intention to misinterpret the government policy as discrimination against the minority Muslim community, Shyam explained that protecting forest and agricultural land is the bounden duty of any government.
The minister also dismissed the contention that interest and sentiment of a particular community are being compromised under the garb of development.
Categorically rejecting such misconceptions as bereft of logic or substance, he pointed out that those affected by the eviction drive include many families belonging to different communities.
Further stating that the process for acquiring 53 acres of land covered by three revenue villages at Meitei-Kairang, Chingmeirong East and Kontha Ahallup is under due process of law, the minister cautioned that the attempt to add communal tone to the government policy is akin to challenging law of the land.
The government seeks public co-operation and support to ensure effective implementation of the Manipur Conservation of Paddy land & Wetland Act 2014 and all activities relating to revenue matters are in strict compliance with existing laws, Shyam said, adding that such projects have no intention of inciting communalism or ethnic tension.
He also recounted that around 75 houses of 350-400 villagers were found built at Kobithabi Nongmaijing Ching reserved forests area. Under the DFO, Central Forest Division of Manipur Forest Rule, 1971, a show cause notice was served on March 1 to the encroachers to explain their position on the said construction within March 14.
On finding out that with the exception Satjal Academy Group, none of the encroachers responded to the notice, eviction orders were issued to them on March 17 mentioning that the illegal encroachers should vacate the reserved forests area within March 24, 2018, he said.
Further stating that the proposal for acquiring land to construct compact area quarters for Ministers, MLA and other officials was processed under the direct purchase scheme as per provisions of the 2014 Act, Shyam pointed out that the said area comprises barren land and paddy field of around 53 acres belonging to Meitei- Kairang, Chingmeirong-Nongpok and Kontha- Ahallup villages occupied by different communities.
The government has no intention to create communalism or differences amongst different religious groups and will honour all decisions of the Court even if the present issue reaches the court of law, he maintained and called upon the Muslim committee to call off the strike in public interest and not to resort to anything that will affect the emotional integrity of the state.
He also affirmed that the government will not retract from its decision when it comes to undertaking development project.
If the need arises the government will do the needful for land acquisition under the direct purchase process and as such the current agitation should be withdrawn with immediate effect to avoid further legal complication, the minister added.
Secretary (Revenue) T Ranjit, DC (Imphal East) Th Chitra, deputy secretary (Revenue) Y Rajen and other officials of the revenue department were also present during the media briefing.