Forest officials, police evict 14 shops in Langol area, shop owners cry foul

The 10th July 2019, The Imphal Free Press

https://www.ifp.co.in/page/items/59567/forest-officials-police-evict-14-shops-in-langol-area-shop-owners-cry-foul/

Picture of eviction 9 July 19 Langol Tarung

Forest officials, police evict 14 shops in Langol areaIMPHAL | Jul 9

Forest officials and police today morning evicted 14 shops opened along the Tarung-Guigailong auto parking for encroaching Langol reserved forest area.  The forest official and guards along with a huge number of police arrived at the spot early morning around 7:30. The villagers, who are already aware of the eviction, contested and blocked the roads leading to the shops by placing GI pipes and hanging women innerwear.

An eviction notice was served to the shop owners on July 3 asking them to remove all the structures and materials by July 6.Today, huge confrontation broke out between the villagers and the police and one of the shop owner threatened to commit suicide in front of them if the shops were evicted. However, the police was able to pacify the situation and forest guards along with the police then started dismantling the structures around 10 am.  Speaking to media on the sidelines, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) R.K. Amarjit said that the eviction drive is a continuous process to protect the reserved forests.

The evicted 14 kacha shops are identified to be constructed very recently as detected through satellite imageries. They are very recent encroachments and the shops are not running for the last 5-6 years as claimed by some of the shop owners, he intimated while making it clear that there will be no provision of compensation either as the constructions were illegal. “The eviction drive will be continued and whenever new encroachments are detected, we will evict them,” he asserted.

Even though he admitted that there are encroachments on other parts of the forests other than the Guigailong area, he said that for other encroachments that happen prior to December 13, 2005, there is an ongoing legal process. After the legal process is completed, the ineligible ones will be evicted, the DFO stated and appealed to the people inhabiting around the reserved forest area not to encroach or construct new structures within the reserved forest area.

In the meantime, grocery shop owner Ayao Pheirei, whose shop was also destroyed today, contended that the eviction was carried out in a short notice without much time given to the owners.

“We are not encroaching in the forest area which was demarcated by the barbed wire fencing. We only built our shops in the roadside”, she said and remorsefully lamented that injustice has been done to them. The act was unfair, partial and illegal, she said.

Another shop owner, Lucy Gangmei also said that the forest area was not affected by the shops. She asked the officials to properly verify the locations.

She further said that they are ready to give up the spaces if there is going to be any construction of offices or structures from the government side. “It is not so in this case and as such the eviction was very immediate and disastrous for us shop owners, who derive our living with little profits we received by selling things in the shops”, Lucy added.

It may be mentioned that in earlier investigation by IFP, there were more than 1200 illegal encroachments in the Langol reserved forest area.

10-Jul-2019 /

 

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Manipur seeks Rs 100 crore from Centre for ring road along Myanmar border

Manipur seeks Rs 100 crore from Centre for ring road along Myanmar border

Manipur government has sought Rs 100 crore from the Centre for construction of a ring road along Indo-Myanmar border.  Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh said the government had submitted a Rs 100-crore proposal to the Centre to construct a ring road along India-Myanmar border from the last village bordering Mizoram to the last point bordering Nagaland in Ukhrul district.

He said this on Monday while speaking at the inaugural function of a police station at Behiang village in Churachandpur district bordering Myanmar.

The chief minister said that the location of Behiang is strategically important as it can serve as the second corridor to South East Asian nations next to Moreh in the light of the Centre’s  Act East Policy. Observing that natural calamity prone states like Manipur always need alternative connecting routes, he said that Imphal-Behiang road (Tiddim road) must be developed as the second route which connects the State with South East Asian countries.

CM Biren said that a trade centre would also be developed at Behiang like at Moreh to enhance trade activities with neighbouring Myanmar.

He further asked the personnel and officers of newly inaugurated Behiang police station to especially check entry of illegal migrants and drug trafficking activities. He directed them to attend to grievances of the villagers by holding People’s day every month.

Earlier In the morning, hundreds of villagers clad in traditional attires of the community settling along the border welcomed the Chief Minister Biren led ministerial delegation upon their arrival in an Indian Air Force helicopter at the village Football Ground. Chief minister Biren, who visited the border village for the second time after becoming the state chief minister, was accompanied by ministers Karam Shyam (revenue), Losii Dikho (public health engineering), Th Shyamkumar (forest and environment), V Hangkhanlian (agriculture), Th Radheshyam (education) and several other top officials.

Helpless farmers resort to protests, storms Old Secretariat

 The Imphal Free Press,7 July 2019

http://www.ifp.co.in/page/items/59483/helpless-farmers-resort-to-protests-storms-old-secretariat

Irabot agri

IMPHAL | Jul 6:  Expressing grave concern over drought like situation with scarce rainfall currently experienced by the state, farmers today stormed the Old Secretariat demanding swift action from the government to solve water crisis and ease their sufferings.  Prior to storming the secretariat, the farmers along with Irabot Foundation Manipur (IFM) demonstrated protest by holding various placards and sitting along the road median in front of the secretariat around 1:40 pm.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of the protest, secretary, Irabot Foundation Manipur, Thongam Ajit noted that by this time, it is obvious that the state will face drought and there will be less harvest this year. However, the government is not taking up any positive steps towards easing the sufferings of the farmers, he lamented.

Highlighting the plights of the farmers, he stated that scarcity of water in paddy fields is faced by farmers throughout the state. He questioned how distribution of few water pump sets by the chief minister will solve the water crisis if there is no water available in ponds and lakes to be drawn to the fields. As such, he demanded that special package be made available to farmers facing the drought like situation.

He recounted that farmers have been demanding for implementation of a proper water policy and pointed out that in 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had written to the chief secretary, government of Manipur for taking action for implementation of the same. However, there has been no positive response from the government side, he contended.

While pointing out that each year Manipur either face drastic floods or drought, he urged the government to implement a long term policy to avoid destruction of crops due to floods or drought. Otherwise, people especially the farmers will continue to suffer, he added. “Moreover, freedom in its real sense lies in self-sufficient production for our own consumption”, the IFM secretary asserted and observed that there will be no self-sustained economy without self-sufficient production.

Ajit further expressed worry that in few years’ time, there won’t be any fields left for cultivation of crops. With the decrease in productivity caused by the inability to invest in the modern day agriculture practices, farmers are now selling off their fields which are subsequently procured by rich businessmen for establishing factories and industries, he pointed out.

The IFM secretary also contended that the government is indulging in power tussle when the state is facing such a critical situation. Such is not the quality of good governance and is not in the interest of the people or farmers, he said and pressed the government to work on fulfilling the aspirations of the people instead. Later, the protestors attempted to march towards the CM bungalow but were foiled by the police, who subsequently dispersed the protestors.

On the other hand, another farmers association, Nongpok Imphal Loumee Sinmi Apunba Lup, Imphal East also decried the silence of state government on tackling the present drought-like situation. President of the organisation, H. Ibohanbi charged that they have not received any water pumps which were recently distributed to farmers. He said that the organisation had also approached the concerned department to facilitate water pump as most of the River Lift Irrigation system (total 18 RLI) are dysfunctional for Imphal East district.

He informed that as per their inspection conducted till date, only some agricultural areas of Yairipok Yambem which is irrigated by Keithelmanbi dam are not damaged. Whereas maximum crops that are irrigated with the support of Dolaithabi dam has failed for Imphal East.

He suggested that it would be good for all farmers if pumps are distributed in water source available areas, after inspecting the agricultural sites by concerned department. Ibohanbi also complained of not providing seedlings to them which the agriculture department responded for going out of stock. “We farmers’ community, really want the leaders of the state and concerned authority to deal the present issue of farmers with sincerity and true spirit. Otherwise our state will starve,” he asserted. The organisation while pressing for immediate solution of water scarcity issue also demanded for a concrete long term agricultural policy to accommodate many grievances of farmers not only for this year but for the coming years too.

The organisation further warned that farmers’ community will launch various form of agitation if the state government and concerned department fail to bring pragmatic solution at the earliest.

07-Jul-2019

Farmers to hunger strike against Khuga dam failure

 

By Alex Guite, The Imphal Free Press, 1 July 2019

https://www.ifp.co.in/page/items/59332/farmers-to-hunger-strike-against-khuga-dam-failure/

Khuga dam field runing dry dam failure

CHURACHANDPUR| Jun 30

Khuga Dam Right Side Canal Farmer Association (KDRSCFA) has stated that they will be launching an indefinite strike in protest against the lack of water supply in their paddy fields. The association today called upon media personnel of Churachandpur to express the grievances or difficulties faced by farmers due to the lack of water supply with the season for plantation of crops knocking right at the door. And, the media personnel were taken on a tour of the canal site which have been virtually left abandoned for years and were plagued by landslides and collapses of construction works which have led to the stoppage of the flow of water right 3km away from the intake point. The water supply from the canal is the lifeline of more than 500 acres of paddy fields for more than 150 farmers in the vicinity of Misau Lahvom village.

After the showing the collapsing portions of the canal and the dried-up fields to the media personnel, chairman of KDRSCFA, Seikhopau Misao stated that they have repeatedly petitioned the authorities concerned including the CM, IFCD minister and the CE of the department concerned but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears. “So, we have no other options left but to stage an indefinite hunger strike from tomorrow,” he said adding that the need to call for such measures was due to the apathetic attitude of the government.

Seikhopau Misao along with several farmers had congregated today at the collapsed canal point which lies between Baklui and Saipum village. The collapsed point was more than 30 metres long and around 15 metres in depth and it was located at about a distance of 30 km away from the water intake point of the canal which was also the of the road for water supply to pass through.

The farmers also stated that they had tried to fix the problem on their own but it was beyond their capacity. “What we want now is the State government to step in and fix the problem,” they said adding that all details along with pictures have already been submitted to the department concerned.  It may be mentioned here considering the overall situation from ground zero level on the issue of the Khuga Dam right canal, even if the government intervenes now, it will still take a long time as all the fields have been tilled and in desperate want of water. The only viable solution is the installation of a huge pipe across the collapse canal points.  And even then, the farmers are sceptical that the government will redress their grievances in time as there has been no acknowledgement yet; and upon seeing the conditions of the canal, it is likely that the many hundred acres of paddy fields downstream will be adversely affected as depending on rainwater was out of question.

The concern and the grief of the farmers is while there is plenty of water at Khuga Dam, the non-maintenance of the Canal along with the apathy of the government, it is likely that the paddy- harvests will be null unless certain farmers have the ability to get water supper supply through other means which is sure to be quite a difficult task.  In the meantime, it was also found out today that the farmers had tried to fixed the worse portion  of the collapsed canal by employing woods and erecting a wooden structure that was not practicable as the damage was so huge which could not  be fixed without the intervention of the government.

01-Jul-2019

Wakha Villagers express concern with the proposed establishment of Manipur University of Culture for lack of their consent

Consultant turns out a defaulter

Source: The Sangai Express, 19th June 2019

http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=9..190619.jun19

Imphal, June 18 2019: The IL&FS Township and Urban Assets Limited and Pricewaterhouse Coopers Pvt.

Ltd which signed an MoU for implementation of smart city project in Imphal as a project management consultant has turned out be a fraud-hit company and a defaulter. It may be mentioned that the State Government signed an MoU with Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Township and Urban Assets Limited and Pricewaterhouse Coopers Pvt Ltd as a project management consultant for implementation of Smart City Project in Imphal at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on November 6, 2018.The IL&FS Group, sitting on a debt pile of over Rs 99,358 crore as of last September, had sparked off a liquidity crisis in the country last year, when the parent firm and multiple subsidiaries defaulted on several debt repayments.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which has been probing the group since last October, filed its first charge sheet earlier this month.  The 840-page charge sheet focuses on just one subsidiary, IL&FS Financial Services Ltd (IFIN), and more are under the scanner.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) allowed banks to declare IL&FS Group’s accounts as NPAs last month.  Even as the top management of the crippled IL&FS group continues to face the heat from multiple probe agencies and regulators like the Enforcement Directorate, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and, most recently, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), former Directors have not escaped unscathed.

The buzz is that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs will soon move the NCLAT to freeze bank accounts and properties of some of the past Directors of the group. SEBI issued an order on January 9 this year whereby all the firms in the PW (Price Waterhouse) network were banned from auditing listed companies for two years.

The SEBI found the audit firm guilty in the nine-year-old Rs 7,136 crore Satyam Computer Services Ltd scam.  In its 108-page order, the market regulator said the firm was complicit with the main perpetrators of the accounting fraud and did not comply with auditing standards.

Non-indigenous fruits thrive under climate change

Source: The Sangai Express, the 19th June 2019

http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=12..190619.jun19

Imphal, June 18 2019: The rapid change in the climate and temperatures in recent times, has led to many non-indigenous plants, fruits and vegetables thriving in the place. Earlier these non-indigenous fruits and vegetables were brought from outside the State and hence were expensive.

In stark contrast to the past, nowadays in many places, including Imphal and its surrounding areas and roads like Tiddim road, Imphal-Dimapur road and Imphal-Moreh roads, people can be seen selling watermelons as well as many summer fruits as a means of livelihood.  Sunusiphai village is a village which is situated around 40 kilometres from Imphal, in Bishnupur district.

The villagers earn their livelihoods by planting watermelons and selling them at the road sides as well as in the main markets of the State.  Many stalls can be seen on both sides of the road near the village where people sell water melons to passers-by in the scorching summer season.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, one of the watermelon sellers, Nongthombam Nayani (47) said that their village has been cultivating watermelons for 4-5 years now and in the past, planting watermelons was near impossible but now, the produce is so great that the watermelons can even be exported to the markets.  She explained that since the watermelons are not properly cultivated in the village during February and March, they are usually brought in from Moreh and sold.

But by April, the watermelons grown in the village are ready to be sold.  The watermelons produced in the village will be sold till around August when other crops will take the place of the watermelons, she added. Stating that she has been selling watermelons for around 3 years now, Nayani said that she is able to sell around Rs 2000 – 5000 worth of watermelons per day and added that the other fruits and vegetables which she sells in her makeshift vending space in-front of her house, is in hot demand among the passers-by.

On the other hand, environmentalist Dr Kh Shamungou said that the appearance of many plants, which were earlier unable to thrive in the State, due to the rise in temperature is a boon of sorts for the farmers as it has provided an avenue for earning income.

He informed that most of such plants, mainly the watermelons grown in the State, are hybrids and hybrids are usually low maintenance plants. But in the attempt to cultivate these plants, adverse impact to the environment can be seen, he opined. Nodal Officer of Climate Change, State Horticulture Department, Additional Director M Kirankumar said that the appearance of plants and fruits, which were once unable to grow in the State is a direct result of climate change.

Apples were once grown abundantly in Ukhrul but now, it is not so. As the State is getting hotter, litchi and grapes are being planted in large scale now and the rise in temperature has also resulted in the grapes produced in the State getting sweeter, he explained. Nodal Officer of Climate Change Cell, Directorate of Environment, Deputy Director Dr T Brajakumar said that similar to the disappearance of apples from Himachal Pradesh, the cultivation of fruits and plants in the State has to adapt to the changing environment as the climate will not revert to the original state.

Pointing out that the temperature in the State has increased by around 2 to 4 points during the last 40 years, he said that it will be important to consult the experts and attempt to plant corresponding fruits and rice varieties as per the changing climate.

On the other hand, Manipur Organic Mission Agency Project Director and Horticulture Deputy Director K Devadutta said that cultivation of plants which were impossible to grow in the past, due to change in temperature is, in a way, a boon for the farmers and people as their livelihood and employment potential have been increased.  Even though the change in climate presents such positive opportunities, it also results in disappearance of many native plants as well as the gene pool, he added.

Manipur University of Culture: Need to uphold Wakha Villagers Rights

By Jiten Yumnam

The Imphal Free Press, 14 June 2019

https://www.ifp.co.in/page/items/58886/manipur-university-of-culture-need-to-uphold-wakha-villagers-rights/

Pic: Wakha Village and  the foundation stone of Manipur University of Culture in the Village

The Wakha village in Imphal East District in Manipur features in media recently again for another development onslaught on an indigenous peoples’ land with historical and cultural significance. Media establishments highlighted comments of villagers expressing concern with the Manipur University of Culture proposed in Wakha Village. At a press conference on 19th May 2019, president of Wakha Youth club, Mayanglambam Vishma stated that the Government of Manipur is preparing to divert 100 acres of community forest area for the construction of the said university apart from the land they had allocated. “The area which is going to be diverted without consulting the villagers is one of the most culturally significant places of the Wakha people,” Mr. Vishma said while adding that this type of exclusionary process undermines the traditional rights of Wakha villagers over their traditional community forest and land in Nongmaiching Hills.

Indeed, the Government of Manipur laid the foundation stone for the university on 28 December 2017. Villagers also expressed concern that the Manipur University of Culture already applied for Forest Clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in June 2018 for diversion of 38 Hectares of community forest land without consulting and taking consent of the villagers of Wakha Village. A portion of community forest land in Nongmaiching Hills, which Wakha villagers managed and rely for their livelihood since time immemorial, has been included in the area marked for construction of the proposed University without the consent of Wakha Villagers. The Villagers are compelled to raise objections with the MoEFCC to refrain from conceding the Forest Clearance on grounds that villagers whose physical and cultural survival depends on the forest are excluded from decision making process for the University.

The villagers of Wakha village with Seventy Four households and population of close to Five Hundred people belonging to the Meitei community, depends on their community managed forest for their livelihood and survival for generations. No agreement or memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Government of Manipur and the villagers of Wakha Village for the construction of the University.  The villagers of Wakha village has been depending on their community managed forest area of Nongmaiching Hills for collection of firewood, grazing their cattle, collecting seasonal forest produces and for water since time immemorial. Most villagers eke out their livelihood from their forest. Villagers also fish and collect other aquatic species, such as crab, to support their livelihood.

The ongoing efforts of the Manipur Culture University for diversion of community forest land of 38 Hectares in Wakha Village from the MoEFCC constitutes a clear violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 due to failure of the project proponents to consult and seek consent with the traditional bodies and local institutions of the Wakha village, either through the Singlup, the Meira Paibis (Women’s organization) or the youth club. The University of Culture also admitted that settlement of community rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 has not been completed for the Wakha Villagers in completing Form A as prerequisite for Forest Clearance.

The right of Wakha village and occupation over their community forest has been recognized by the Manipur Durbar resolution, 10 (a) of 1932 along the territories along Komhao Lok (Stream) in the North to Komla Ingkhol Lok in the South, Khongjaitabi hill in the East and foothill of Nongmaiching hill in the West.  Earlier, the Chief Forest Officer, Government of Manipur also conferred traditional rights of villagers to access and use their community forest land on 6th January 1969. The community ownership, management and use of forest in Nongmaiching Hills was also recognized by the order of the Forest Settlement Office, Government of Manipur under Misc Case no 2 of 1994 as outcome of legal cases to repeated attempt of the Forest Department of Manipur to curtail the rights of Wakha villagers to their traditional community forest. The effort of Manipur University of Culture to divert forest land is a clear disregard to the Durbar resolution of 1932 and order of Forest Settlement office in 1994.

The Government of Manipur commenced construction of road for building the University of Culture in the forest land for Wakha village, destroying a portion of the forest areas. The leveling of ground for construction of the university near Komhao Lake already affected agriculture land cultivated by Mr. Lousambam Gouramani of Wakha Village. A community ecological centre established by locals of Wakha village is also affected as the area is now included in the proposed site of Culture University complex. The water supply to the ecological centre is also affected. Further, a traditional healing centre will also be affected by the University.

The Forest areas in Nongmaiching Hills are not only source of livelihood of the Villagers, but also the source of traditional culture, indigenous belief system, medicinal practices and traditional worship. Firewood has to be collected for “Sairen chanba” ritual from the community forest for annual Lai Haraoba ceremony of the sacred Wakha Lakpa Deity. The Lai Haraoba Ritual also involves a ritual that specifically mentioned that “Wathou”, a type of bamboo should be collected from Wakha Village to complete the ceremony. The complete control of forest by Manipur Culture University will disturb the traditional cultural practices. The firewood for cremating deceased bodies from Wakha Village is traditionally collected from the community forest as well. The forest diversion will only lead to their impoverishment and will constitute violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, on right to life.

The pattern of introduction of the University of Culture in a community forest land without the consultation and consent of indigenous peoples and without considering the long term impacts on livelihood, culture and tradition will only constitute a violation of the indigenous peoples rights, as guaranteed under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 in addition to violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The curtailment of indigenous peoples’ access to their forest land in Nongmaiching Hills will lead to their impoverishment and a loss of their culture and identity. A portion of the community forest of Nongmaiching Hills has been declared as Nongmaiching reserved forest by the Government of Manipur under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 on 4th January 1990 without the consultation and consent of the villagers of Wakha Village. The villagers of Wakha already lose a huge tract of their forest land due Reserved Forest Area declaration, affecting their livelihood and survival.

Establishing a University of Culture is extremely crucial to uphold and revitalize the unique, rich and diversified cultures of various indigenous peoples of Manipur. However, it is extremely crucial to acknowledge the intrinsic relationship of the indigenous cultural relationship with the land and resources of Manipur. For instance, “Leirol”, the song of flowers of the Meiteis is one of the folk songs of Manipur, where many of the traditional folk dances and ceremonies and rituals such as in Lai Haraoba are premised with. The Wakha Village itself is indeed unique for its historical and cultural significance as many of the rituals and dances of the Meitei people are incomplete without reference to Wakha village and its forest. Hence, the Manipur University of Culture should uphold the indigenous cultures of Wakha Village, which also imply its forest land should be protected as well. The University of Culture should exhibit an exemplary culture of respect of community rights and relation with their forest, land and environment, which is integral to the flourishing of traditional culture, identity and survival of the indigenous peoples of Wakha and other villagers of Manipur.

The Government of Manpur and Manipur University of Culture should stop forced acquisition of the community forest land of Wakha Village in Nongmaiching Hills without their consent and further should take the free, prior and informed consent of Wakha villagers before introduction of University of Culture in their village land and forest areas. The introduction of University of culture should not lead to human rights violations, like forced displacement and impoverishment of the communities of Wakha Village. The Government of Manipur and Manipur University of Culture should also recognize the close physical and cultural, spiritual relationship of Wakha villagers with their forest by recognizing their ownership and sustainable management of forest land in Nongmaiching Hills in Manipur.

Japan to invest Rs 13,000 crore for infra projects in North East India

The Japanese flag. (File photo | AFP)

The Japanese flag. (File photo | AFP)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Japan will invest a staggering `13,000 crore in several ongoing as well as new infrastructure projects in the northeast region, including a water supply scheme in Assam and a network connectivity improvement initiative in Meghalaya, the DoNER Ministry said on Wednesday.
DoNER Minister Jeetendra Singh made the announcement after a meeting with the Japanese delegation led by Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu in the national capital.

Some projects in which Japan will collaborate include the Guwahati water supply project, Guwahati sewage project, the northeast road network connectivity improvement project spread over Assam and Meghalaya and northeast network connectivity improvement project in Meghalaya.

Other schemes include biodiversity conservation and forest management project in Sikkim, sustainable forest management project in Tripura, technical cooperation project for sustainable agriculture and irrigation in Mizoram and forest management project in Nagaland, a statement issued by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) said.

Singh also voiced his appreciation for the Japanese contribution to the development and transformation of the northeast in the last three to four years.  The minister said in the foreseeable future, new areas of cooperation could be worked out.  The new ventures could possibly include bamboo-related collaboration.
“Significantly, it was the Narendra Modi government which amended the century-old Indian Forest Act of 1919 to bring the home-grown bamboo out of its purview,” the statement quoted Singh as saying.

Villagers reaffirm stand against Mega Food Park construction

The Imphal Free Press, 13 June 2019

http://www.ifp.co.in/page/items/58883/villagers-reaffirm-stand-against-mega-food-park-construction/

Villagers reaffirm stand against Mega Food Park construction

Villagers reaffirm stand against Mega Food Park construction

Association demands govt. to return back donated land

IMPHAL | Jun 12:   Affected Land Owners’ Association against the Construction of Mega Food Park at 44-Yaithibi Loukol has demanded the return of their lands reportedly acquired by the government for the purpose of construction of National Sports University as the sports university complex will not be constructed in the area.

Speaking to media during a press meet held today at Manipur Press Club, secretary of the association, K. Manihar made it clear that the land they donated was for the construction of National Sports University only and not for construction of other structures like Mega Food Park.

He noted that villagers of Langthabal Khunou, Koijam, Sora and Laijing Meenou, in the interest of the sports spirit of the state, agreed to donate the land during the previous Congress government regime in 2014. “As such one ‘Sangam’ of paddy field (approximately 0.62 acres), which normally costs Rs 10-15 lakhs were donated for construction of the university at the nominal cost of only about Rs 3 lakh,” K. Manihar said.

During the acquisition, the MLAs and even the then chief minister, Okram Ibobi promised the villagers to provide one job in the university to one family, besides constructing houses for the donors in 0.20 acre area of land, Manihar recounted while pointing out that the government acquired more than 400 acres of land during the land acquisition for construction of the sports university. Some of the donors are yet to receive compensation for the same, he added.

The association secretary further contended that the current BJP government is using force to construct the food park against the will of the villagers. Earlier during the Congress regime, the BJP government in the centre saved the fertile soil of Yaithibi Loukol from being utilised in construction of the university by shifting the construction to Koutruk. “However, it is very unfortunate that the state BJP government is presently using repressive measures to construct the mega food park by imposing CrPC 144 in the area,” Manihar stated while also expressing strong condemnation against the repressive measures used by the government.

Intimating that the government officials came for land demarcation for construction of the food park around 15 days back, he said that demarcation was carried out using force and heavy deployment of security personnel after the villagers opposed the same. Despite the repressive measure, the villagers will never allow the construction of any other structure other than National Sports University in the fertile soil of Yaithibi Loukol, he asserted.

The association secretary went on to say that the villagers will return back the compensation given by the government and demanded that the land be also return back to the rightful owners, i.e., the farmers. Utilising the fertile soil of the paddy fields for construction of structures, which the farmers do not consented for, is snatching away the only means of livelihood of the farmers, he lamented and further warned that the villagers will not remain mute spectators but launch various forms of intensified agitations to reclaim their rights in the paddy fields.

Taking part in the press meet, one villager of Koijam Maring village, M. Korungthang also informed that the land was acquitted without the consent of village authority chairman or members of autonomous district council, which is violation of the law of the land.

13-Jun-2019