Imphal, June 09 2022: Chief Minister N Biren Singh vented his fury towards officers of Revenue & Forest Departments, who were found to have allotted land pattas (document) in wetland and Reserved Forest Areas of the state.
The CM interacted with officials of Revenue and Forest Departments at his Secretariat office on Thursday to discuss issues regarding implementation of the provisions of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 .
The interaction programme was attended by chief secretary Dr Rajesh Kumar, additional CS V Vumlunmang, PCCF Dr AK Joshi, commissioner (Water Resources) T Ranjit, secretary (Revenue) Namoijam Kheda Varta, Deputy Commissioners, Sub-Divisional Officers, Sub-Deputy Collectors and Mandals among others.
During the interaction programme, CM Biren maintained that government officials do not belong to any particular community.
Rather, they are duty-bound to serve the public irrespective of community and religion.
He then urged all the officials to work with sincerity and transparency to save the forest and paddy lands of the state.
The CM also stressed the need of the officials concerned to make the public aware of certain Acts implemented to conserve the forest and agricultural lands.
Manipur, being a small landlocked state with certain uncertainties like landslides and floods, it is imperative to save our paddy land and increase our produce to become self reliant.
Continuing that there are instances of overlapping land jurisdiction between Revenue and Forest Department and issues of Dag Chithas in Reserved Forest Areas, he expressed concern that such activities would hinder the development of the state and create tension among people.
He then urged the officials to rectify any wrong deeds done earlier so that our precious forest and agricultural land could be saved timely.
Some officials also presented their views and suggestions to effectively implement the relevant Acts to conserve forest and agricultural land.
They also expressed the problems they faced while carrying out their duties.
Later in the day, CM Biren went live on Facebook and explained that the main agenda of the meeting was related to various land disputes and allotment of Dag Chithas in Reserved Forest Areas, adding that issuance of Dag Chithas is similar to giving ownership.
It was found that Dag Chithas were issued to non-existent people, which in turn creates unrest in the society.
Government offices and lands in the hill areas have all been occupied in such a way.
Thus, he urged the Forest Department to shoulder the responsibility for protecting the forests, and for the Revenue Department to be responsible in revenue survey lands under MLR Act.
“Let’s try to prevent any unlawful activities on this matter”, he said, while stating that responsibility will be fixed against officers concerned.
Referring to the electricity quarter at Leimakhong, the CM said that the land comes under the revenue of Imphal West, but was found to have been given away by an SDO of Kamjong/Kangpokpi.
This could incite communal discord and prevent any land development related activities, he added.
Questioning why Dag Chithas were issued in the reserved forest areas of Nongmaijing and Waithou hillocks, Biren remarked that such decisions, which were made for the sake of guaranteeing jobs for their children, is not good for the future.
It must be noted that wildlife sanctuaries are not under Forest, he said adding that Forest Department should neither touch the Reserved Forest Areas and Protected Areas, nor ignore villages being established in the forest areas for sale at a convenient time.
The CM continued: “Even the agricultural land has not been spared.
The agricultural area in Lamphel is a wetland, but now parts of it has been divided up and converted into homestead land.
Both Forest and Revenue Departments do not communicate to clear up any confusion, but instead competing to allot patta in wetlands, water bodies and Reserved Forest Areas, which is clearly in violation of the various acts and laws of the land.
If the people responsible for implementing the law are the ones to break them, how will one save the country and state? “Manipur is a small state and lacks space.
However, the confusion seems to be created at the levels of Mandal, Amin, SDCs and SDOs.
It is heartbreaking to learn that a hillock in Lilong no longer exist, as it was given away as a patta at the aforementioned levels.
Thus, DCs and SDOs need to talk with the people in their respective jurisdictions so to make them understand about the laws, instead of just issuing notices.
The people are innocent as they are many who are not aware of the Forest Act or MLR Act.
Even those working in government offices have no knowledge that villages established in agricultural land have been illegally allowed by Revenue Department.
The roads also being encroached upon, all of which is making it difficult for the government to govern”.
The CM then urged Forest Department not to touch the villages in the hills, but should protect the Reserved Forest Areas instead.
The department should examine para-wise areas covered by the MLR Act.
“The Conservation of Paddy Land Act was enacted and passed in 2014 after lots of difficulties.
However, it could not be implemented”, he lamented, while expressing his distaste for the aged officers of Revenue Department for providing patta land in the hills.
The CM then said that the Forest Department must see to the eviction of encroachers in areas covered under MLR Act and Agriculture Protection Act.
There will plans to construct houses for the truly homeless and landless people, he maintained.
Regarding encroachments along river banks, Biren urged for properly conserving the river banks, while further urging for.
concerted efforts for removing illegal encroachments in Reserved Forest Areas, agricultural lands and river banks with a renewed commitment.
The previous generation took pains to conserve for the present generations, and as such, we must also work hard to prevent any resentment from the future generations.
While mentioning that there are records of the illegalities which have gone on till date; the CM appealed to all concerned save the state.
He then mentioned that 160 acre of land in Tengnoupal which was prime land for setting up a hub of Act East Policy is now occupied by the army, after it was given away by the then assistant settlement officer.
Meanwhile, around 80 households possess land deeds in Waithou hillock, he remarked.
“If maps are modified, there will be loss of property and the person involved will be jailed.
The village in Nongmaijing hill relocated three times but no forest officer was present.
How can governance be possible in such situations”, he questioned, while urging all concerned to rectify the damages done to the departments by the then officers and politicians.