Chief Minister N Biren on Thursday interacted with officials of the Revenue Department and the Forest Department at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to deliberate on the effective implementation of the provisions of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 and Forest Acts/rules in the State. CM said that the Forest Department and the Revenue Department are not working with proper coordination and they are doing whatever they like. Both the departments must work in proper coordination to evict encroachers.
Chief Secretary Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary V.Vumlunmang, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Dr. A.K. Joshi, Commissioner (Water Resources) T. Ranjit, Secretary (Revenue) Namoijam Kheda Varta, Deputy Commissioners, Sub-Divisional Officers, Sub-Deputy Collectors and Mandals attended the occasion.
During the interaction programme, the Chief Minister said that the interaction was conducted to resolve various disputes existing between the Forest Department and the Revenue Department as controversy has erupted after the Revenue Department issued Dag Chitha and Patta inside the reserved forest.
It has also been detected that the Revenue Department issued Dag Chitha to even non-existing individuals for personal benefit, leading to cause of unrest in society. As almost all government land has been occupied by private individuals, the government has no land to construct development projects in future planning, he said.
Instructing officials of the Forest Department and the Revenue Department to launch a joint operation to immediately evict the illegal occupants/encroachers from the reserved forest, protected forest, river banks and paddy land under relevant laws, Chief Minister N Biren warned that concerned officials will be fixed responsibility for any illegal activities inside the government land.
The Chief Minister contended that government land in the hill areas has been occupied by many people and it has been found that the land of Leimakhong Electricity Department, falling under Imphal West revenue district, was allotted to the village by the SDO Saitu Gamphajol.
If government officials continue to do this, communal flare-ups will erupt and future development planning of the government will be crippled, he observed.
Nongmaijing Reserved Forest was notified in 1960 under the Indian Forest Act 1927. However, a village called Nongmaipal was allowed to settle inside the reserved forest in 1985 and no Forest officials knew and managed to prohibit such illegal settlement, the Chief Minister wondered.
The Revenue Department also issued 80 pattas inside the Waithou Reserved Forest, the Chief Minister said, questioning if the officials do not love the State and future generations.
He also questioned how good governance will be delivered to the people if we work for only our personal benefit, hoarding wealth, constructing luxurious buildings and possessing first-class cars without caring for the future generation. We should not give an opportunity to the future generation to blame us, just as we blame the past generation for their misdeeds, he added.
Officials of the Revenue Department issued many pattas after having fragmented the land into pieces. Admitting that the failed system of the Revenue Department is responsible for the sprouting up of several houses in Lamphelpat area. Lamphelpat area is a wetland agricultural land but it has been fraudulently converted into a homestead land after erasing the revenue map, the Chief Minister said, questioning if the provisions of the Act allow issuing of patta in water bodies.
We are running the government under the Acts and rules of the Indian constitution. Our State has its own Acts and laws. It is the duty of the officials to implement the Acts effectively, he maintained, asking how a government can run effectively if the law implementing officials violate the law.
Special drives will be conducted across the state to evict encroachers who are illegally occupying State lands.
As almost all government land has been occupied by private individuals, the State Government has no land to construct community market sheds and housing complexes. The confusion has been created by the officials at the level of SDO, SDC, and Amin. It is quite disappointing to see the current state of affairs in the State, the Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister instructed the concerned officials to make the public aware of certain Acts implemented to conserve the forest and agricultural lands in the State. Manipur, being a small landlocked State with certain uncertainties like landslides and floods, it is imperative to save our paddy land and increase our products to become self-reliant, he opined.
The Chief Minister directed the Forest Department to take the responsibility to protect the reserved forest areas and the Revenue Department to protect the surveyed land of the government, saying any unlawful activities should not be allowed.
Further admitting that the Paddy Land Conservation Act, 2014 cannot be implemented by the officials effectively, he said that we should do something for the land before death and our generation should not ruin the land.
Pointing out that there are instances of overlapping jurisdiction of land between the Revenue Department and the Forest Department and issuance of Dag Chithas in reserved forest areas, he expressed concern that such activities would hinder development of the State and create tension among the people. The Chief Minister urged the officials to rectify any wrong deeds done earlier so that the precious forest and agricultural land could be saved timely.
During the interactive session, some officials presented their views and suggestions to effectively implement the relevant Acts so as to conserve forest and agricultural land. They also highlighted the problems they faced while carrying out their duties.
Chief Secretary Dr Rajesh Kumar urged the officials to work as per the directive of the Chief Minister. He also told the officials not to fear anybody or local interference while performing their duty to evict encroachers.