NYFM calls for mass movement to address issues
Imphal: Being concerned with the present situation where there is an urgent need to address the burning social-political issue affecting the whole society of Manipur, Naga Youth Forum, Manipur (NYFM), a civil society organisation for promoting peace and harmony in Manipur says a mass social movement is the need of the hour to address the present artificial socio-political issue created by vested interests.
The youth forum in a statement released on Tuesday said Manipur has been in the national news recently for the massive loss of forest cover. According to India’s Forest Report 2021, Manipur recorded a loss in forest cover of 249 sq. km in 2021 compared to forest cover in 2019. In 2019, forest cover loss was 499 sq. km as compared to the previous assessment in 2017. From 2017 to 2019, Manipur lost a total forest cover of 758 sq. km. This is in contrast with the increase of 2,261 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover for the whole country during 2019-21. Deforestation to facilitate poppy cultivation has been mainly responsible for most of the forest cover loss during this period.
Correspondingly, drug trafficking has also been on the rise as evidenced by the massive seizure of drugs in the state. Drugs originating from the neighbouring countries and trafficked through the state have also been seized in other parts of the country. Responding to this critical situation, the Government of Manipur under the leadership of chief minister N. Biren Singh has been undertaking a massive campaign against drugs under the banner of “War on Drugs” since November 2018. In the process of the drive against poppy cultivation, it has been found that many areas under the reserve forest and protected forests are under poppy cultivation. Many illegal encroachers were also found within these forest areas. This led to the investigation into the existence of many illegal settlements within forest areas.
For instance, K. Songjang Village evicted recently from Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest is a new settlement established in 2021. As per the statement of the Forest department, the establishment of a new village inside a Protected village violates Section 30 (C) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, Rule No. 73 (4), 73(5) of Manipur Forest Rules 2021, Section 2(ii) of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and Supreme Court Order dated 12.12.1996 passed in WP(C) No.202 of 1995 and is treated as encroachment in the Protected Forest.
Besides the long-term impact of climatic change, another immediate big impact of deforestation is that Manipur is facing floods during the rainy season and drought and shortage of drinking water during winter. The massive herbicides and fertilisers used for poppy cultivation have become a big cause of health hazards.
Many new villages, both recognised and unrecognised, have been detected in the follow-up investigation. There have been instances where more than 10 villages in different districts under a single village chief are recognised. The villages were also found to be named after their forefathers and not by location. It is also very alarming that many villages with fictitious populations, Aadhar cards and voter IDs have also been found.
The process of timely streamlining has so far been blocked by the elected representatives for their selfish ends. Sadar Hills (present Kangpokpi) had 179 villages in 1969 which has grown into massive 534 villages in 2021, an impossible growth of 198%. This can be compared to the growth of villages in Senapati District with 126 villages in 1969 and 140 in 2021, a growth of 11% growth. Similarly, Churachandpur had 216 villages in 1969 and 544 villages in 2021, a growth of 150%. Tengnoupal and Chandel had 232 in 1969 and it has increased to 446 in 2021, a growth of 100%. Tamenglong and Noney recorded a growth of 29%. Ukhrul and Kamjong district has recorded a negative growth of 6% in the number of villages.
Correspondingly an attempt to control land and resources has been translated into a political movement demanding a separate political status. This has resulted in socio-political issues in Manipur. This is evidenced by the recent agitation launched by some sections of people in support of the illegal encroachment in the reserve and protected forests.
A mass social movement is the need of the hour to address the present artificial socio-political issue created by vested interests, said the statement signed by Amu Pamei, president of NYFM.
It is the moral responsibility and bounden duty of all those who desire a peaceful and prosperous society, irrespective of their caste, cress or ethnic affiliation, it added.
The demand of the movement to the Government of Manipur and the Government of India shall be for immediate action to identify and delete the fictitious villages and delete the bogus population; identify and delete the bogus Aadhar Cards and Voter Identity Cards; derecognise chieftainship heading multiple villages; and to enact appropriate laws for new village recognition.
The NYFM appeals to all the right-thinking citizens of the state to extend support for this mass social movement for peace and harmony in Manipur.