IMPHAL: A police personnel sustained injuries during a confrontation between residents of Machen village (Naga Ching) which is located near Mantripukhri Lamlongei and law enforcers who had gone there to dismantle illegally constructed structures on Friday. According to reports, the encroachment drive was taken up as per the direction given by the Imphal East District Magistrate to clear illegal structures at the village at Langol Reserved Forest of Sadar East Range which falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Forest Division at Mantripukhri.
A team which included the DFO of Central Forest Division RK Amarjit and his staffs, Imphal East Executive Magistrate, Addl.SP, SDPO Imphal East, women police personnel and additional security personnel arrived at Lamlongei Macheng at around 8.30 am. They noticed that residents of the village have blocked the road and upon seeing them started shouting their objections to the move to dismantle the structures as well as insisting them to take their lives as well.
In order to stop the resilient villagers from impeding the execution of the court’s directive, the executive magistrate Imphal East and DFO Amarjit gave a sincere explanation to the leaders of the village on the purpose of carrying out the eviction drive and afterwards the executive magistrate issued a warning that all of them return to their houses within five minutes as curfew was in effect on account of the lockdown account of Covid-19 pandemic. However, their efforts to convince the villagers failed and the latter continued to block the road. The crowd was finally dispersed after police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets at them as an exigency after which the demolition of three illegally constructed houses were carried out. The police personnel was hurt from the projectile of a catapult fired from the village.
Conservator of Forest, Central Forest Division Joykumar came to the spot for supervision of the eviction exercises which was carried out with the assistance of SP, Imphal East. The three illegal buildings were constructed by Khonthuingampou Panmei and two of which were rented to the present occupants by him.
According to DFO Central Amarjit there are a total of 1346 illegally constructed houses spread over the Langol Reserve Forest area. Above all this, new constructions have been come across which have led to issuance of an office memorandum against the fresh structure. The houses dismantled today were part of the list of new building, he stated. Numerous warnings and eviction notices were served to the owners but they did not accommodate the instructions of the district administration, he added.
The list of 1346 houses deemed to be constructed illegally inside the forest area was fixed in February 2019 and an office memo was prepared. The copies of the memo were provided to all related parties including the new encroachers.
Citing that the forest department is festered due to inadequate staff and sought the help of the public in regulation of the laws in the forest areas. He warned that any new houses above the 1346 identified ones will be dismantled whenever found. He informed that the illegally constructed houses razed to the ground today were erected taking advantage of the Covid-19 lockdown. The range officer and Koirengei BO have personally gone there to request the owner to stop the construction and necessary information were provided in advance. The incident has taught the department that serving prior information does not serve any purpose and hence the authorities will straightway move to the task of eviction of all illegal construction, he said.