Last Updated on February 17, 2023 by SPN Editor
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Dr AK Joshi, IFS said, “An area of 7.07 Sq Km was set aside for all the villages lying inside the notified Nongmaiching Reserved Forest. The notification was published in Manipur Gazette No 41 dated January 17, 1990. All the procedures as required under the Act were followed Under Para No 4 of the final notification of the Reserved Forest, an area covered by one fourth mile radius, i.e. 125. 44 acres were set aside in favor of Yamkhokhal, Chief of Nongmaipal village, who is the father of the present village chief Jankhoshat Haokip. However, the Nongmaipal village has shifted two times from the originally set aside area in 1985 and 1995 and finally settled at the present site at the foothill of the RF which is in violation of the relevant Acts and rules.”
He further said that the initial notification under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 for the declaration of Nongmaiching Reserve Fprest covering 74.7 Sq. Km was issued on February 16, 1966 and on the same day the Forest Settlement Officer was also appointed to determine and settlement of the rights of villagers as provided under Chapter-II of the Act. Once the initial notification under Section 4 was issued, accrual of fresh rights is not allowed. The Forest Settlement Officer issued a proclamation under Section 6 of the Act inviting claims and objections on July 7, 1966. In response, altogether, 20 claims were received by the Forest Settlement Officer including Yamkhokhai, Chief of Nongmaipal village.
After settling the claims and objections by the FSO, the final notification of the Nongmiching Reserve forest covering 67.00 Sq Km was issued under section 20 of the IFA, 1927 vide notification no. 66/1/75-FOR dated January 4, 1990. And 125. 44 acres were set aside in favor of Yamkhokhal, Chief of Nongmaipal village, who is the father of the present village chief Jankhoshat Haokip.
Addressing reporters at Forest Head Office at Sanjenthong on Tuesday, Dr AK Joshi, IFS said that there have been few incidents of objections to the plantations being taken up by the Forest Department and a joint survey conducted by the Forest Department and Revenue Department for consolidation of reserved forests and protected forests.
Claiming that Ishing-Chaibi falls under Compartment No.7 Iril Block of Nongmaiching Reserve Forest and does not belong to Nongmaipal Kuki village, the Forest Department said that the recent attempt of Nongmaipal village to thwart tree plantation activity is very unfortunate and appealed to all the people to cooperate with the department in conservation and development of forest and wildlife.
He informed that there are 37 reserved forests and 23 protected forests in the State of Manipur covering 1467 Sq km and 4.171 Sq Km respectively. He elaborated that some of the reserved forests were notified by the then Manipur State Darbar and some were notified under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 as per the provisions provided under the Act. All the protected forests were notified under Section 29 of the Indian Forests Act, 1927. Decisions taken by the Manipur State Darbar for declaration of Reserved Forests are considered to have been notified under IFA, 1927 as per the provisions of the Manipur (Administrative) Order 1949. The same has also been upheld by the Courts at various levels, he added.
He said that under the directive of Chief Minister N Biren and Forest Minister Th Biswajit, the Forest Department has initiated actions for the consolidation of the boundaries of the reserved forests and protected forests. As per the decisions taken by a high-level committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, a joint survey for finding exact boundaries of forest lands and revenue lands by the Forest and Revenue Department is underway, he added.
He recounted that on July 18, 2017, a combined team of Forest and Police arrested seven persons for mining of stone in Chaithabi area and seized three Trucks. On further investigation, it was found that the mining was carried out on a Lease Deed given by the village chief Jankhoshat Haokip on payment of Rs 40,000 for a period from Phairel (February) 2014 to Inga (June) 2015. Further, he collected Rs.20,000
for extension of the lease. Jankhoshat Haokip was arrested and a Cril (P) Case No 89 of 2017 was filed in the court of the CJM, Imphal East. 15 accused persons have been convicted by the court and the case
against two persons including the village chief is pending in the CJM, IE Court. Department prayed for Imprisonment of six months and fine as provided under the Act. Further, the Department also prayed for payment of Rs.20,38,932 as compensation for damage to the forests and re-afforestation of the area.
On March 21, 2018 the village chief filed a case bearing OS No.1 of 2018 in the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Senapati praying for declaration as owner of a suit land with a schedule of boundaries, totally different from the set-aside area. Further, he also prayed to allow the mining of stone from that area. DFO, Central filed the Para-wise reply. The petitioner village chief failed to pursue and appear before the court for more than two years. The Court finally dismissed the suit on December 17, 2021, he added.
The PCCF clarified that the recent tree plantation at Nongmaiching taken up by Forest Department offices including the DFO and Central Forest Division at Nongmaiching Reserve Forest was part of World Environment Day, 2022 and the department’s plan of planting 75 lakh seedlings. The mass plantation was organised in Compartment No.7 Iril Block of Nongmaiching Reserve Forest, locally known as Ishing-Chaibi area, in association with CSOs, voluntary agencies, youth, students etc. Villagers of Nongmaipal attempted to thwart the plantation activity taken up there including tearing off the backdrop set up for the plantation, he said.
The Department has initiated to plant 75 lakhs seedlings in the forest areas as well as outside the forest lands from June 5 to August 31 with the involvement of various CSOs, voluntary agencies, youth, students, and citizens of the State, he continued.