IMPHAL: The Joint Forest Management Committee, Keirao Bitra Awang Leikai has strongly refuted the media report about the dwindling of Angoulok and Shagollok reserved forest under the Nongmaiching Reserve Forest citing it as baseless and an attempt to put the JFMC and Forest department officials in the wrong light.
JFMC, Keirao Bitra Awang Leikai President Salam Madhumangol Singh, in a statement, said that one or two decades back, the forest reserved areas at Angoulok and Shagollok under the jurisdiction of Nongmaiching Reserved Forest looked denuded due to various illegal activities like rampant illegal felling of trees, logging and wildfire by some people of the surrounding villages. With the inception of the Joint Forest Management Committee formed by representatives of Forest department and locals, massive deforestation, wildfire and logging activities have reduced with increase in the forest cover to a great extend these recent years due to hectic protection drive, local awareness programmes, jointly carried out by the Forest staffs and JFMC volunteers.
Refuting the media allegation showing negligence on the part of JFMC and Forest staff, it said that the committee and Forest officials are carrying out regular patrolling to prevent felling of trees, logging and wildfire in the forest reserve areas.
The JFMC, however, accepted that some vested anti-social elements are felling Pine trees to extract Uchan Chips for sale in the market, despite the effort of the JFMC to check it for years.
There were some incidents in which the JFMC arrested many individuals who were found felling trees in the reserved forest area of Angoulok and Shagollok. However, the committee freed them without registering any cases for violating Forest rules on humanitarian ground as all the offenders happened to be hailing from the locality. JFMC strongly feels that protection of forest will be possible only when the people are fully aware of the importance of Forest and that imprisoning the offenders is not the only solution to prevent deforestation.
Refuting the report alleging the higher ups in the Forest department of deducting of 50 percent of fund meant for the JFMC, it said that there is no question of deducting fund by the Forest top officials. The Fund provided to the JFMC is for various purposes like tree plantation, livelihood schemes of the poor families settling in the vicinity of the reserve forest areas. With the fund provided by the Government, JFMC could procure two water pumpsets which was quite beneficial during last year’s drought like situation. Crop cultivation at Tekhambi Loukol was successful due to the pump sets. The JFMC took up various developmental works like construction of irrigation canal at Tekhambi Loukol, repairing of Club building, providing financial assistance of Rs. 50, 000 each to the local Woman SHGs, construction of Keirao Khunou Public Pond etc.
Stating that JFMC and Forest staff should not be left alone in the effort of protecting of forest, it appealed to the people for a collective work to protect the dwindling Forest cover.
It also appealed the people to come to the JFMC office if they wish to know the details of the committee and its activities.