Orders against provisions of Forest Acts and Rules cancelled, warns action against erring officials

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Imphal: Principal chief conservator of Forests and HoFF Forest department, Manipur has cancelled all orders issued by the assistant settlement officer setting aside forest lands from the Protected Forests of the state have been cancelled as the ‘orders are against the provisions of the Acts and Rules and the officers are not authorized to issue such orders’.

Encroachments in forest lands, illegal cultivation of poppy and other narcotic plants, forest fires and taking up non-forestry activities inside the forest lands without prior and mandatory approval of the competent authority etc have become the major driving force for deforestation and degradation of the forests of the state threatening the environmental security of the state. The Forest department, Manipur has continuously been taking actions against these illegal activities inside the Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas of Manipur, a press statement released Aditya Kumar Joshi, principal chief conservator of Forests and HoFF, Manipur said.

It has been observed that orders/OMs/letters have been issued by some individual officers without the approval of competent authority/state government in violation of the existing Acts and Rules governing the Forests and Wildlife relating to recognition of new village inside Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas, Change of village name, Allotment of forest lands, Issuing of Pattas/Jamabandis, Excluding /Setting aside of Forest Lands from the Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas etc, it said.

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Forests and Wildlife are under the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution. These acts of encroachments, recognition of villages, change of village names, allotment of lands, issuing of Pattas/Jamabandis, non-forestry activities etc inside the RF/PF/WPA, without prior approval of the central government, are in gross violation of central and state Acts and Rules viz the Indian Forest Act 1927, Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Forest Conservation Act 1980 and Rules framed thereunder and several Orders/Judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, it added.

In view of the statutory provisions, the state government has issued an order on May 31, 1994 declaring that any decision taken in a forest land in violation of the Acts and Rules shall be treated as Null and Void. Similarly, all orders issued by the assistant settlement officer/forest settlement officer excluding/ setting aside forest lands from the Protected Forests of the state have been cancelled as per order issued on November 7 as the said orders are against the provisions of the Acts and Rules and the said officers are not authorized to issue such orders, the release said.

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“Both the encroachers and authorities/officials issuing such orders/OMs/letters shall be deemed to be offenders and shall be liable for punishment with fine and/or imprisonment under the Acts and Rules. They are also liable to pay compensation for the damage done to the forest lands due to such illegal acts,” the principal chief conservator said.

Forests and Wildlife are vital resources upon which survival of mankind depend. Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas are for production of timber and other valuable forest produce to meet the bonafide requirements of the peoples of the state. Conservation of diverse floral and faunal diversity of the state and providing various Ecosystem Services including maintaining hydrological cycle, providing soil nutrients, waste disposal, cleaning the air, producing oxygen, controlling environmental pollution, checking climate change, conserving soil and water, providing livelihood to poor villagers, recreation etc. Protection and conservation of forests and wildlife are of vital importance for the well-being and survival of mankind, he added.

As provided under Article 51 (A) (g) of the Constitution of India it is the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures. In view of the importance of forests and wildlife for humankind and constitutional provisions, the state government has taken serious view on the instances of encroachments in forest lands, illegal cultivation of poppy and other narcotic plants, forest fires and other illegal activities detrimental to forests and wildlife, he said.

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The principal chief conservator of Forests appeals to all the citizens of the state and concerned authorities not to encroach upon the Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas.

It was also informed to all concerned authorities not to issue any orders/OMs/letters relating to Recognition of New Villages after the notification of the Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas, Change of village name, Allotment of forest lands, Issuing of Pattas/Jamabandis, Excluding /Setting aside of forest lands from the Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Wildlife Protected Areas, Taking up non-forestry activities without the prior approval of the competent authority etc.

Violation of the Acts and Rules shall be viewed seriously and actions shall be initiated against the erring officials/persons/offenders strictly as per the Acts and Rules in force, the principal chief conservator said.

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