IMPHAL: The Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA), Manipur has urged the State government to uphold the community ecotourism which was initiated with Andro villagers at Santhei Park on Wednesday.
In a press release, Sanaton Laishram, President CRA expressed concerns over the State’s move to privatize the Santhei Natural Park which was managed by the villagers of Andro villages in their community forest at Nongmaiching hills in a traditional and natural way. CRA also expressed concerns over the lack of consultation and consent of the Andro villagers before issuing the tender notice by the Tourism Corporation of Manipur on 7 September to privatize the Santhei Park.
The Andro villagers are worried that the conversion of the Santhei natural park will deprive the villagers of the water source and access to their forest area for livelihood. The park has been a source of livelihood for many youths of Andro villages. The villagers are also worried that the privatization of Santhei Park will restrict the Andro villagers into their traditional forest land. The Santhei Natural Eco-Park has been managed collectively by different villages of the surrounding Andro areas, CRA said.
CRA further expressed concerns that the privatization of Santhei Natural Park will benefit private companies and not only the villagers of Andro, as already happened with privatization of Sendra Hills. It further express concerns with the arbitrary detention of two villagers of Andro areas for objection to privatize Santhei Natural park.
Stating that Tourism Corporation of Manipur has notified for privatizing the Santhei Eco-Tourism Park on September 7, 2020, the CRA said it should be revoked and all efforts to privatize the community areas top. The government should uphold human rights based development in promotion of tourism initiated in community areas and seek the consent of Andro villagers for any development affecting their land and forest areas, it stated.