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Traditional forest dwellers will get justice as per FRA 2006 – Th Biswajit

Last Updated on February 17, 2023 by SPN Editor

The Minister of Forests, Environment & Climate Change Thongam Biswajit confirmed that nothing can be done in a Reserved Forest area and the only way to get rights if there had been a historical injustice is through the procedure as laid down under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 which is meant for forest-dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.

The villagers who had attended the interaction program raised various issues pertaining to their respective villages and the Minister asked the villages to write to the Divisional Forest Officer, Central Forest Division as soon as possible so that the matter may be processed and addressed by competent authorities.

The villagers informed that more awareness and interaction programs of such kind should be organized in other places particularly on the Forest Rights Act and the rights of traditional forest dwellers to clear doubts in the minds of the general public.

Thongam Biswajit was speaking to the villagers on the occasion of a tree plantation program at Esingchaibi area of the Nongmaching Reserved Forest under Nongmaiching Forest Range of Central Forest Division, Manipur on Monday.

Notably, on June 5, a scuffle took place when the villagers of Nongmaipal Kuki village prevented a tree plantation drive at the area jointly carried out by the Forest Department and CSOs as part of World Environment Day.

The plantation program was organized by the Central Forest Division, Forest Department, as part of the “Plant for Your Future” drive which was initiated on World Environment Day on June 5.

Speaking to media persons at the plantation site, Minister Biswajit conveyed that the plantation program was a part of the ongoing endeavor of the present BJP Government to plant 75 lakh seedlings in the State by August this year. He stressed the uneven rainfall, flood, increasing temperature during summer and low temperature during winter, and the need for scientific interventions in the catchment areas.

He appealed to the general public to join hands in planting more and more saplings and making Manipur a greener place. The plantation program was also attended by Kh. Ibomcha, MLA, Lamlai Assembly Constituency, Sheikh Noorul Hassan, Kshetrigao Assembly Constituency, L. Joykumar Singh IFS, Chief Conservator of Forests, Territorial-I, R.K. Amarjit Singh, IFS, Divisional Forest Officer, Central Forest Division, Surma Devi, MCS, Sub-Divisional Officer, Sawombung, Uma Devi, MCS, Sub-Divisional Officer, Keirao, Siba Veimy, MFS, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Central Forest Division, Range Officers, Beat Officers, staff, members of Nongmaiching Reserved Forest Protection Committee, Pradhans, village chiefs, club members and others.

The plantation program was followed by an interaction program held at the community hall of the Sanamahi Kiyong Temple wherein representatives of villages in and around the Nongmaiching Reserved Forest took part.

The Chief Conservator of Forests, Territorial-I, Government of Manipur highlighted the procedure as to how a Reserved Forest is notified under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and briefed about the procedure followed in notifying the Nongmaiching Reserved Forest.

He said that Nongmaiching Reserved Forest was initially notified in the year 1966 under Section 4 and final notification was made on January 4, 1990, under Section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. During the process, there were 20 objections submitted to the Forest Settlement Officer appointed for the purpose during that time, and 18 of the objections were accepted and set apart from the boundary of the Reserved Forest. Two of the objections were rejected on the ground that the land so claimed by the parties was not within the boundary of the proposed Reserved Forest, he informed.

Minister Biswajit said that those villages which were set aside during the time of the notification of the Nongmaiching Reserved Forest shall enjoy the rights as before. He said that there are about 34 villages today located within the boundary of the Nongmaiching Reserved Forest which does not have proper records in the Forest Department.

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