IMPHAL: The All Tribal Rights’ Protection Forum Manipur (ATRPFM) stated that it was saddened by the ‘inhumane act of the state government’ for eviction of three houses of Macheng Village, Lamlongei, Mantripukhri, Imphal East district on April 24, 2020 during the ensuing lockdown.
In a press release ATRPFM further stated that the forest department claimed that the houses were constructed during the lockdown, however, when we contacted the village, the houses were constructed in 2017. The allegation of constructing houses during lockdown is shameful claims of the State Government and DFO, Central Division, Forest Department, it continued.
There is no compulsion to demolish any house during the lockdown, the government can evict them after the lockdown if the occupancy is illegal. In fact, it is the duty of the state government to provide shelter to the residents of the state at least during such a horrible and difficult time. The DFO, Central Division just took the decision for eviction on Facebook after going through a comment/ post of an individual in violation of the lockdown guidelines and orders of the government.
In his Facebook comments, DFO, Central has written that taking advantage of the forest burning and lockdown, the houses would be demolished which is extremely inhumane on his part and without application of mind just because the occupants belong to ‘tribal community,’ the note said.
It may be mentioned here that the Macheng village was established under de-reservation of 2’75 acres out of the Langol Forest Reserve for the rehabilitation of the villagers of Nagaching and the under Secretary to the government of Manipur has written a letter to that effect and all of them have land pattas issued by the state government.
In every State, there are many illegal and unregularized occupants but the governments give their best effort to regularize them and provide shelter homes with all facilities. However, in case of Manipur, the government is always ready to demolish and left the residents homeless, even during national lockdown which is inhumane, added the press release of ATRPFM.
The release also further said that almost 2,000 informal settlements in Delhi were set to be legalized that would give more than 4 million residents the right to own their homes in India’s capital and the decision of the government was published in newspapers on October 24, 2019 under a headline “Four million slum dwellers in Delhi to win property rights”. India’s cabinet passed a bill to regularize 1,797 unauthorized slums in the country’s most populous city, giving residents ownership rights at “minimal rates” that would enable them to build and sell properties and take loans.
In other states, the governments are giving its best effort to provide equal shelters and facilities to the illegal occupants equal to regularized households. However, in Manipur even the land patta holders with Dag No. are evicted during the national lockdown and social distancing due to Covid-19 disease epidemics, it lamented.
Whenever the issue pertaining to eviction of tribal forest dwellers comes, the provisions of the Forests Rights Act. 2006 shall be reflected, however the state government mentioned only the Forest Act 1927 and 1971, moreover the Commissioner or Director of TA & Hills shall be made a part in decision making, since they are the concern department to FRA 2006, however the government fails to do so, asserted ATRPFM.
The eviction notice was issued on 21 and 23 of April 2020 respectively, and simultaneously the evictions was carried out on 24 April which is extremely inhuman and violate the Right to Life under Article 21 of the constitution and human life, it added.