HAC asked to uphold forest dwellers rights and privileges

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IMPHAL, May 5 (Newmai): A one-day seminar on “Schedule Tribe Traditional Forest Dwellers’ Rights” has recommended for a joint struggle of the age old villages for finding justice against the “bad laws of the forest department of Manipur which tend to uproot” the aged old forest dwellers under the Forest Dwellers’ Association (FDA), Manipur. The participants deplored the “weakness and non -functional state” of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of Manipur Legislative Assembly ever since its inception in 1971 under Article 371(c) of Indian Constitution. According to the participants of the seminar, 20 MLAs of HAC did nothing to protect the rights of the hill people and village.

The seminar was organised by FDA held at TRl, Auditorium Chingmeirong, Imphal with a massive get together of the hill people leaders and “victims of eviction drives under forest and environment of Manipur,”.

Resource persons of the seminar were R. Daniel, Sr. Advocate, Dr. R. Sanga, Dr. Benjamin Gangmei and Aaron Keishing, advocate.

High Court lawyer R. Daniel stated that the hill villages were existing for centuries as owners of the forest lands before the enactment of law for conservation of forests and the lndian Forests Act, 1927, Manipur Forest Act, 1989 and other such laws. He alleged that the forest department only trespassed upon the indigenous hill peoples’ villages, not the villages encroached upon the reserve forest lands. The resource person stated that there are forests where every tribal and other traditional forest villages exist.

The seminar recommended and urged the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) to intervene in the “eviction raids” at many aged old tribal villages of Langol foot hills and other places the fresh show cause notice to Pantilong (Lambansok), Nagaching (Lambansok), Aenon village and others near Koirengei foot hills and cause the state to implement the ST and Forest Dweller’s recognition of (right) Act, 2006.

Resource persons and other speakers of the seminar acknowledged the traditional practices of controlling of wild fire, felling of trees and poaching of wild life with ‘ heavy fine of pig and money etc.

The seminar urged the state, NGOs, media houses and individuals not to misjudge the aged old tribal villages as encroachers without knowledge the details history of the village.

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