Churachandpur: Officials of the Forest Department and Revenue Department who came for land surveys in Churachandpur district were sent back on Tuesday at Sielmat village in Churachandpur district.
On learning the survey being carried out without prior consent of the village chief and concerned village authority, the Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) Churachandpur and the Zomi Students’ Federation (ZSF) rushed to the survey site and obstructed the surveying process.
The officials, when questioned as to why the survey was being carried out could not give a proper satisfactory answer. The students’ bodies also asked the officials to produce the notice for carrying out the survey. The officials on duty said that the notice was with the RO and not with them. The officials on duty however informed the student leaders that they were instructed to cross check the Geo-Cordinate points of Khoupum Protected Forest area.
As per their information, the survey has already been finished at three villages in Churachandpur district – Bungmual, Pearsonmun and Headquarter Veng.
Briefing media persons in this regard, L. Minlal Gangte, Vice-President, KSO Churachandpur said that the people of the district strongly objected to the survey being ‘secretly carried out by the government’ as it was done discreetly without prior consent of the people, village chief and village authorities.
“As per some government’s notifications, it said that it has been notified back in the 1960s. However, as per the rules of Indian Forest Act 1927, we see that survey has to be done prior to the announcement or declaration of Protected Forest or Reserved Forest, but no survey has been done so far. However, after so many years we got this survey which is totally not going by the book of Forest Rules,” he said.
We have also raised our objections to various government agencies and also to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), he said, adding that they are also preparing to file a case in the High Court regarding the illegal declaration of Protected and Reserved Forest. We called it “illegal” because while declaring this protected and reserved forest the consent of the people were not taken and no settlement was done. More than 38 villages have raised their objection to this. However, when the Forest Settlement Officer was appointed, he gave exemption to the villages but the government has cancelled that exemption again and we are still fighting the case in court, he continued.
The NCST has also instructed the State Government to give a response regarding the issue. We will not accept any kind of land survey without prior consent of the people and as such we request the State Government to refrain from conducting the land survey and immediately stop the survey until and unless prior information is given to the people, he said.
Samuel, General Secretary ZSF requested the State Government to stop the survey immediately as the survey has been conducted in private land. For instance, a survey was conducted today at Sielmat village, the village has its chief and village authority and the village has never been a government land. He also appealed to the Sate Government to stop surveying tribal private lands.