Kuki chiefs oppose new land policy
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Newmai News Network

Imphal, July 25 2014 : Kuki chiefs in Manipur have resolved to oppose the New Land Use Policy (NLUP) .

Subsequent to the filing of a formal complaint to the Government of Manipur on June 26, over 570 Kuki village chiefs hold a meeting under the aegis of the Kuki Inpi at Kuki Inn, Imphal on Thursday.

Dr.Joseph Suantak presented a paper on New Land Use Policy (NLUP) and KC Guite, legal advisor of Kuki Inpi exhorted the chiefs on the issue.

After due appraisal, the Kuki chiefs have unanimously resolved to oppose in toto the Manipur government's New Land Use Policy (NLUP); Village Development Committee (VDC) Act, and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 .

The Kuki Inpi, the apex Kukis' traditional body said the NLUP advocated by the Mizoram government cannot apply to the hill districts of Manipur.

Unlike the land holding system in Mizoram, where the lands are all community lands, the lands in the hills district of Manipur are in the hands of our traditional chieftains.

"Mizoram is a tribal state as declared by the constitution and ILP system is in operation, but the case is not so in Manipur state, which is a threat to our tribal way of life," the Kuki Inpi explained.

In Kuki villages where there exists a traditional form of administration, the lands are utilized judiciously and properly, the Kuki body pointed out.

They practice traditional methods of farming or cultivation and maintain the ecosystem.

Article 371C gives a special provision in respect to the Hill Areas to the State of Manipur for protection of the people and their way of life.

So the people who live in the hill areas do not require this New Land Use Policy because it is in total contravention to our traditional land use system, which takes into account the ecological and environmental aspects, the Kuki body further said.

"Our traditional village administration is handed down through generations from time immemorial, and is still in practiced today," the Kuki Inpi said, adding, "the newly formed Village Development Committee (VDC) is alien to us".

The Kuki Inpi further said, "We administer our villages customarily without any encumbrance" .

According to the Kuki Inpi, the VDC has completely affected the traditional and cultural set up of the Kuki people, and therefore not applicable to us.

"Today, area under jhum cultivation has also come down in spite of growing population pressure.

Many jhum cultivators have now taken to plantation farming instead.

There are also instances where wastelands have also been developed without any monetary assistance from the government.

It is a matter of time that the practice of jhum cultivation will finally come to an end.

In fact, the government must pump in capitals in the hill districts for plantation farms, animal husbandry, etc.

to do away with jhum cultivation, it added.

According to the Kuki Inpi, the forests are the source of sustenance for the tribal people and the people always take good care of it.

The finger pointing attitude of government agencies that the tribal people are not capable of taking care of their lands are just hyperboles to get their hands on the pie and to obtain funds from the central.

"We don't need this NLUP.

What the hill people needed most to conserve their lands are funds for sedentary farming which the government always found it scarce to provide.

The irony is that while the government have ample of funds for projects in the valley, there is always the scarcity of fund for livelihood in the hills," the Kuki body stated.

By bringing the Right to Fair Compensation Act, the government is harping on forced acquisition of land as in the carrot and stick policy, it expressed its apprehension.

The Kuki Inpi also said all through history of statehood, the state government had been playing a cat and mouse game with tribal chiefs.

The MLR&LR Act, Village Authority Acts, Reserve Forests Acts, JFMC, Village Development Committee (VDC) Act, etc.

are the tools the government used to subdue the tribal chiefs.

These Acts are all in contravention with our cultural and traditional set up.

We don't want compensation and neither do we want to part with their lands, the Kuki Inpi stated.

"Therefore, we appeal the government to be sincere and honest while dealing with the tribal people and scrap the proposed Right to Fair Compensation Act, 2014 and the New Land Use Policy 2014, the Village Development Committee (VDC) Act, which are antagonistic to the interests of the tribal people," the Kuki Inpi appeals.

It then warned that if the government fails to abrogate these Acts, the Kuki Inpi and other tribal organizations will be forced to take a course of action which is not in the best interests of the government.

"If the authority is bent on enacting its policies, it should implement these acts and policies only in the valley districts but not in the hill districts of Manipur," the Kuki Inpi asserted.

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