Mizoram: River Fest cancelled following legal concerns, location

Aizawl: Environmental organizations in Mizoram, including Project Save Tlawng and the Centre for Environment & Social Justice (CESJ), have raised their voices in protest against the Tlawng Fest, which was set to be organized by the Mizoram State Sport Council (MSSC) and the Mizoram Tourism Department (MTD). The event, originally planned for October 13 and 14, has been canceled due to concerns over its location within a reserved forest area.

Environmental activists cited violations of National Green Tribunal orders and environmental laws as the reasons for their strong opposition to the festival.

The CESJ, in a statement, expressed its disapproval of the festival’s organization, as the proposed location, Zobawk District Park, is situated within a Reserved Forest and Riverine Reserved Forest area. The CESJ emphasized that such an event would constitute illegal encroachment, referencing a 2022 order from the Hon’ble Gauhati High Court (HGHC). The activists revealed that they had expected the organizers to change the location in light of the legal constraints.

The CESJ further revealed that they had lodged a complaint with the Principal Chief Conservation Secretary of the Forest (PCCF) Department of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (EF&CC) of the Government of Mizoram. This complaint was rooted in the belief that the proposed event location did not align with the intended forest use, thereby constituting an encroachment.

Reports indicate that the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Lunglei district had advised the festival organizers to change the location, given the pending legal matters. The CESJ strongly condemned the concerned departments’ alleged disregard for court directives, especially in light of the potential environmental repercussions.

Representatives of CESJ said they supported the theme and purpose of the Tlawng Fest but vehemently opposed its location within a “non-forest purpose within Notified Reserved Forest area.”

In response to these concerns, the organizers decided to cancel the festival, despite having completed preparations for it. They expressed regret and offered apologies to all those who had planned to participate and those who had traveled to join the fest.

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The organizers conveyed their disappointment at having to change the location at the last minute and assured the public that the Tlawng Fest would be rescheduled in the near future.

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