TODAY -

Can the State Ever Succeed in Bridging the Hill-Valley Divide?

Wunganing Horam *



Six days and still counting of internet gagging by the state government following the burning of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi towns after the passing of the infamous Bills, Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015 along with two other Bills, MLR&LR (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2015 and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill 2015, which can neither get the assent of the Governor nor the Presidential ascensions to come into an Act.

The technicality of the PMP 2015 Bill in defining the "native" and "non-native" people based on the National Citizenship Registry of 1951 looks "plunderous and disastrous" in the political realms of the state both in the hills as well as in the valleys which might require exhumation of the death and mass DNA testing exercises to establish the relationship of such person whose parents and forefathers have died.

History has also taught us that the Assam Accord, during Late Rajiv Gandhi, that distinguished the original settlers using 1971 as the cut off year is yet to be implemented despite inking of the agreement three decades ago. Some regulatory mechanism can be worked out by either by redrafting the bill and confining it only in the valleys or by amending the Article 371C of the constitution by the union Government of India so that the administration on the land use policy in the hills can be effectively supervised, monitored and controlled by the 'Appointee Director' or the 'Director in Designate' from the Directorate of Registry. This will mean taking away not only the executive powers of the District Councilors but also the legislative powers of the Hill Areas Committee.

Despite delays in producing the legal vetting reports of the Bills by the centre, it is evident that the extension of the PMP 2015 Bill and the two other related Bills in the hill areas is null and void unless the statute of the HAC is altered by amending the Article 371C of the constitution by the government of India.

The press release justifications made by the Secretary to the Chief Minister on September 07, 2015 not only fails to appease the hill people but also, distorts and tampers facts by superficial presenting of the PMP 2015 Bill as 'Money Bill'. The definition of "Money Bill" is given in the Article 110 of the Constitution of India. A financial bill is not a Money Bill unless it fulfills the requirements of the Article 110, Section 1 (a-f).

Moreover, Section 2 of the Article 110 reads "A Bill shall not be deemed to be a Money Bill by reason only that it provides for the imposition of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment of fees for licenses or fees for services rendered, or by reason that it provides for the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority or body for local purposes".

The externality of the PMP 2015 Bill may be a Money Bill but, the nature and content of the entire bill is purely an attempt to invade supremacy by way of registering all forms of landlord-tenant, lessor-lesse, etc., agreement for entering any commercial or agriculture transactions in the hills and establishment of registration centres in the hills, where the Director shall supervise and shall have other administrative powers and functions as per the Section 3 and Section 4 of the PMP 2015 Bill, overriding the powers and the jurisdictions of the district councilors which are wholly against the interests of the tribals and that the state Government must not shy away from this reality.

If today, the annexation of the financial memorandum at the last page (page no. 9) of the Bill for the allocation of Rs. 10 crore as non recurring and Rs. 80 lakh/ annum as recurring for salaries and maintenance from the Consolidated Fund of the State for running the Directorate of Registration fitted into the definition of Money Bill in terms of Section 1 (e) of the Article 110 then, tomorrow it will surely hound back the tribal populace of the state by another Monetary Bill that is bound to come in the form of MLR&LR Act with a clause for setting a Land Registry Centres or Sub- Registrar Offices in all the hill districts of the state by declaring some expenditure from the consolidated fund of the state, engineered to avoid referring of the bill to Hill Area Committee.

It is apparent from the "Statement of Objects and Reasons" of the PMP 2015 Bill where the focal point is stressed on the comparative geographical land holdings and the population ratios of the hills and the valleys, the fact that the Imphal valleys which comprises of 10% of the total areas of the state is a home to both the people of the hills as well as to the people of the valleys cannot be argued and that fellow tribals from the hills must give room for understanding if we must co-exist.

The tribals must also admit that they owned and occupy 90% of the total areas of the state. Moreover, the hill areas which comprise of ninety percent of the areas of the state is a home to the tribals alone and that the people from the valleys do not have access to the land and resources of the hills.

Similarly, the valley people must also admit the truth that the Hill: Valley population ratio could be 50:50 had there been a thorough and absolute survey. Nonetheless, as per the census data of 2011, the official Hill:Valley population ratios stood at around 43:57.

Therefore, the populace of the valley districts must also understand that their counterparts in the hills deserve an equal share of 30:30 in the total of 60 seats in the state legislative assemblies considering the higher developmental costs accompanied by the operational and administrative difficulties in the higher altitude and hilly terrains of the state in comparison to the much smaller districts of the valleys.

The idea of gracious and passive co-existence between the hills and the valleys will be a distant dream unless the people in the valleys give up the very idea of commanding all the 90% of the hills by the 10% of the valleys.


* Wunganing Horam wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on September 10, 2015.


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