TODAY -

'Tribals are caught in time warp'
Source: Chronicle News Service / R Lester Makang

Ukhrul, November 03 2021: Maintaining that deprivation of constitutional rights has affected the hill areas of the state, Hill Areas Committee (HAC) chairman Leishiyo Keishing stated that the tribal communities have become static in terms of development in all spheres of life.

"Tribals in Manipur are the only ones who are lagging behind when their counterparts or even smaller tribes in other North-eastern states have become advanced and developed," he contended.

The Phungyar MLA was speaking during a public consultation meeting on HAC recommended MADC Bill 2021 held at town hall on Wednesday.

Attributing this sorry state of affairs largely to failure in empowering the grassroots government in the hill districts, he said that to address the myriad issues besetting the hill districts, HAC unanimously formulated and recommended the passing of the amended Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021."HAC intends this bill to replace the existing Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 1971 which was enacted before Manipur got statehood in 1972 .

Now, it has become redundant with time," he said.

The MLA further pointed out that even the existing Act has not been implemented in letter and spirit despite many repeated amendments owing to the state government's hesitancy.

He informed that the new Bill is intended to give more autonomy to the ADCs in order to bring the backward hill areas on the track of development.

Knowing this, the state government refused to table the said bill in the last assembly session, he said.

He continued that the bill was supposed to be passed as a government bill which can be submitted two days ahead of the assembly session.

Calling the prevailing contention over the bill as a constitutional battle, Keishing urged all the tribal communities of the state to stand united and voice in one accord to mount pressure on the government to take executive actions so that the new bill is translated into an act.

"This is a war for the tribals.

It has just begun and we should not give up until we get what is entitled to us by the Constitution," he exhorted the public.

Attending the meeting as a speaker, Ukhrul MLA Alfred Kanngam Arthur said that the incumbent tribal MLAs who are members of HAC have shown exemplary unity in unanimously formulating and recommending the new MADC Bill 2021.He said that the legislatures have decided and done what is best for securing the future of their people and added that MLAs or peoples' representatives are for the people.

Stating that the prime concern of the legislatures should be to leave a footprint of something immortal for the posterity, Arthur remarked, "Once constitutional rights are secured for the people, it won't go away, but will remain lifelong".

He continued that legislatures are here to do such services for the people and not to secure contract works for their workers or dole out freebies from their ends.

The MLA said that time has come for the tribal communities of the state to unitedly stand up for their constitutional rights which they have been deprived of for the last 49 years of statehood of Manipur.

Simultaneously, he lashed out at the state government stating that it is only interested in appeasing the tribals and not empowering them.

He also pointed out that there is vast disparity in fund allocation between the hills and valleys in education, agriculture, animal husbandry, environment and forest, power sector, youth affairs & sports, minor irrigation, major irrigation (water resource), art & culture, horticulture and soil conservation, social welfare, tourism and other areas of governance.

Saikot MLA TN Haokip also spoke on the occasion and recalled the early days of the 6th Schedule demand and subsequent ban on ADC elections in the hill districts in the 90s.More than 1000 people drawn from different spectra of social, political and other organisations attended the meeting.


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