Saikot Assembly MLA Paolienlal Haokip has requested the Divisional Forest Officer, Churachandpur Division, to hold all further action regarding the Show cause Notice sent to 62 village chiefs for alleged encroachment of land within Dampi Reserved Forest on April 26, 2022.
Paolienlal said, “The matter relates to the administration of the Hill Areas and needs to be deliberated in the Hill Area Committee before any decision is taken,” and stressed that some of the settlement villages pre-date the 1951 notification of the Dampi Reserved Forest.
The local MLA has requested to hold all further action in the matter before the HAC considers the issue and place its opinion before the Cabinet.
“Any further action taken prior to this would be in contravention of the constitutional provisions relating to administration of the Hill Areas,” he said.
As per Churachandpur Forest Division, a total of 1580 households in 62 villages have been encroaching about 187.85 acres of land within Dampi Reserved Forest, and a total of 556 households have encroached 90.877 acres of land within Cheklaphai Reserved Forest.
Earlier, the Divisional Forest Officer, Esther Laltankim Serto, IFS, had served Show cause Notice to village chiefs or authorities of about 62 villages for alleged encroachment of land within Dampi Reserved Forest on April 26, 2022.
The notice stated that reports had been received by the DFO that pieces of lands within Dampi Reserved Forest have been encroached by the villagers and have established machetes/ hamlets of Dampi village by constructing houses which, it stated, was in violation of provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Manipur Forest Rules, 1971.
It said, “as per Section 26 (1) (0) & (h) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, any person who fells, girdies lops or burns any tree or strips off the bark or leaves from, or otherwise damages the same and clears or breaks up any land for cultivation or any other purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or both, in addition to such compensation for damage done to the forest as the convicting Court may direct.”
The Divisional Forest Officer, therefore, in exercise of powers conferred upon her under Rule 81 (4) of Manipur Forest Rules, 1971, has directed all the village chiefs to show cause on why they should not be evicted within 5 (five) days from the date of issue of the notice; and warned that the official should be constraint to take up further necessary action on the matter as per Rule 81(1) of Manipur Forest Rules, 1971, in case of failure.
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