Editor’s note: This is a response to the article published a few days ago on EastMojo, which allegedly painted an anti-tribal image of the Manipur government.
This response was issued by the Forest Department, Manipur. To ensure absolute transparency, we are publishing the response without any edits and corrections. Response follows:
Clarification of the Forest Department on the eviction of new encroachers of K. Songjang Village from Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest
1. Churachandpur- Khoupum Protected Forest was notified under Section 29 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 by the Government of Manipur with a well-defined schedule of boundaries vide Notification No. 55/10/66-M (2) dated 17.09.1966 and Manipur Extra Ordinary Gazette No.124-EI00 dated 21.09.1966.
2. Once Notification of the Protected Forest has been issued, no fresh right can be acquired and activities such as quarrying of stone or the burning of Lime or Charcoal or the collection or subjection to any manufacturing process or removal of any forest produce and breaking up or clearing for cultivation, for building, for herding cattle or for any other purpose is prohibited in such Protected Forest as provided under Section 30(C) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
3. There was no village in the name of K. Songjang village at the time of the notification of Churachandpur- Khoupum Protected Forest. The Village Chief of K. Songjang claims that his village a machete (bifurcation) of Kungpi Naosen village recognized in 1926. However, there is no record of bifurcation of K. Songjang village from Kungpi Naosen village. Once the notification of the Protected Forest has been issued, establishment of a new village inside the Protected in the name of Machete (bifurcation) is in violation of Section 30 (C) of Indian Forest Act, 1927, Rule No. 73 (4), 73(5) of Manipur Forest Rules 2021, Section 2(ii) of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and Hon’ble Supreme Court Order dt. 12.12.1996 passed in WP(C) No.202 of 1995 and shall be treated as encroachment in the Protected Forest.
4. The Secretariat: Revenue Department, Manipur vide Order No.30/7/2014-R dt. 25.08.2018 has recorded K. Songjang as a village under the newly created Thangting Sub-Division (now Kangvai Sub-Division) which is not in consonance with the provisions of the Indian Forest Act 1927, Forest Conservation Act 1980 and Hon’ble Supreme Court Order dt. 12.12.1996 in WP(C) No.202 of 1995. Recognition of any village by any authority or establishment of any new village after the notification of the Protected Forests is a clear violation of the Forest Acts, Rules and Hon’ble Supreme Court Order mentioned above. Recognition or establishment of a new village inside the Protected Forest shall be treated a Null and Void. The State Government of Manipur vide Order No.55/12/8-For dt. 31.5.1994 has directed that any decision taken in violation of the Forest Acts and Rules shall be treated as Null and Void.
5. The present settlement of K. Songjang village (24037’40.07”N 93041’40.84”E) is a new settlement established in 2021, much after the notification of the Protected Forest in 1966, at an aerial distance of about 1.30 Km from Kungpi Naosen village, from where the village chief has claimed to have been bifurcated. The present settlement of the village is also not at the location where the Revenue Department has listed K. Songjang as a village under Thangting Sub-Division (now Kangvai Sub-Division) vide Order dt. 25.08.2018 mentioned under Para No.4.
6. Show cause notices were issued to the encroachers at the so-called K. Songjang Village on 10th August, 2022 by the DFO Noney. No reply was, however, received. After giving ample time, a reminder of the show cause notice was again issued on 30th January, 2023. A reply to the show cause notice was received on 06th February, 2023. DFO, Noney disposed the reply to the chief of K. Songjang village on 10th February stating that creation of new villages is not valid inside the Protected Forest and informed him to vacate the encroached forest land.
7. As there was no compliance by the said encroachers, eviction drive was conducted on 20th February 2023 by a team of Noney Forest Division, Noney District Police, Kangpokpi District Police and Bishnupur District Police.
8. In view of the aforesaid, the so-called K. Songjang village is a new village established only in the year 2021 by encroaching inside the Churachandpur- Khoupum Protected Forest in violation of Forest Acts, Rules, Hon’ble Supreme Court Order and State Government’s standing Order.
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The KSO had previously replied to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) & HoFF regarding the nullifying of extraordinary Gazette FSO Order, Govt. of Manipur.
All the above points were implemented without the consent and knowledge of the indigenous people. It was kept a secret until now and implemented only now.
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