IMPHAL: Strongly denouncing the alleged gun attack meted out to the forest staffs at Chana Sandrok, which falls under the Waithou Protected Forest Areas, widespread sit in protests were staged at various frest office complexes under Central Forest Division, Mantripukhri.
Forest staff staged sit-in protests at the office complexes of Nongmaijing Range, Sadhar East Range, Sadhar West Range and Sawombung Range and beat offices under Central Forest Division, Mantripukhri.
Members of Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) and locals also took part in the protest.
Staff of Nongmaijing Range and Irilbung Beat office staged a protest demonstration at Nongmaijing Range office, Irilbung.
Range officer Nongmaijing Forest Range Konthoujam Momba said that the gun attack meted out to the forest department staff who went to Chanam Sandrok, which falls under compartment no. 8 of Waithou Protected Forest to stop felling of trees is very unfortunate. Despite shortage of manpower, forest staff are running from pillar to post to protect forest areas. What they are doing is not for their personal interest, but for the future generation. Forest is the life of human beings. It gives us good water, air and fire, which are prerequisites for human survival. Forest staff are not enemies of the people, he said and appealed to the people to join the forest staff in protecting the deteriorating Forest.
Save Environment Committee’s Chairman Mutum Inaobi Singh while strongly decrying the gun attack and threat directed at the forest staffs who went to stop felling trees in protected forest area at Chanam Sandrok said that the locals and the particular NGO who are claiming the forest area of Chanam Sandrok as patta land should keep in mind that felling of trees in the said forest area is not allowed as it was declared state forest land.
A ruling of the Supreme Court issued on December 12, 1996 restricted felling of trees from such forest areas.
According to another SC ruling in 1998, felling of trees from such forest areas can be carried out in line with the Forest Department Working plan. Waithou Protected Forest was declared by the Manipur Government in 1966, he added. He demanded the government to book the culprits who violated forest laws.
The protestors held placards that read “We Work for Humanity”, “Help us Protect Your Forest & Environment”, “Teach the Culprit a Lesson”, “Punish the Culprit”, “Stop Threatening Forest Staffs on Duty” amasung “Law Breakers Should be Punished”.
Earlier, forest offices under DFO Thoubal held widespread protest against the attack some days back.