TODAY -

Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur
- 27th February 2023 : Manipur Press Club, Imphal -

*

 consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur
consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur



The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur organized a consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur on the 27 February 2023 at Manipur Press Club, Imphal. Mr. Jiten Yumnam, Secretary, CRA, Manipur shared that Indigenous peoples have intrinsic physical and cultural relationship with their forest land in Manipur.

The pursuance of unsustainable development lead to destruction of forest land in Manipur. Tipaimukh dam will submerge more than 27,000 hectares of forest land. Increased eviction of communities depending on forest for pursuance of unsustainable development and false climate solutions to conserve forest. The Forest department rely on law enforcing agencies to undermine indigenous peoplesí human rights, such as forced eviction at Kangchup Chiru village in December 2022. The forest management should be with full recognition of indigenous peoplesí rights over their forest land.

Mr. Themson Jajo, Environmentalist shared that indigenous communities living with forest are served with show cause notices under Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Manipur Forest Rules, 1971 to produce land title. Several sections of the Manipur Forest Rules, 1971 undermined indigenous peoplesí rights. There is clear need to repeal forest laws, detrimental to the rights of indigenous peoples. Mapithel dam led to submergence of more than 600 hectares of forest land. There is need to recognize the traditional role of indigenous peoples in sustainable forest management and empower community to protect forest.

T.R Jacob, Chairman, Kangchup Chiru Village shared that Kangchup Chiru Reserve Forest has been declared without peoplesí consultation. Survey conducted without villagers consent and several villagers subjected to forced eviction in December 2022, while several villagers now threatened with eviction. Villagers are assaulted and arbitrary detained in police lockup for defending their forest. The Kangchup Chiru villagers are further threatened with eviction as the reserve forest area is being expanded.

Mr. Namjanlung Gangmei, Langthabal Chingkha shared that the Kabui community has been settling in Langthabal Hills for several generations. However, several villagers were served notice as encroachers. The prolonged inalienable relationship and villager dependence on forest for livelihood need be honored.

Mr. Dhana Laimayum, Sekmai Protection Committee shared that the communities of Sekmai village has been managing their forest through traditional customary laws. Recently, Manipur Government declared community forest as Government land in Sekmai, which affects more than 60-70 % percent of community forest land. Villagers are concerned if the government takeover of forest will facilitate protection of forest.

Chaoba Heisnam, Secretary, Loktak Fisheres Welfare Association shared that the community land in Loktak wetlands has been declared as forest land and Wildlife sanctuary and restricted community access for fishing, farming and collection of seasonal herbs, fodder, firewood etc. The Government is expanding the Reserve forest land in Keibul Lamjao areas. People already suffered due to 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project by submerging their land.

 consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur
consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur



Heisnam Basanta, Secretary, Forest Rights Committee, Tokpaching shared that indigenous community has been managing forest for generations. Protected area declared in 1965 without the consultation and consent of people in Tokpaching area under Indian Forest Act, 1927. The application of Manipur Forest Rules, 1971, Indian Forest Act, 1927 will cause much tension to the communities.

There is urgent need for repeal of the forest act, or to amend the forest laws to recognize indigenous rights over their forest. The promotion of mono cultivation degrades forest, leading to drying up of water source and affect biodiversity. The management of forest with indigenous peoplesí participation is crucial.

James Gonmei, Langthabal Chingthak Village shared that the Forest department declared several villagers as encroachers. At least 50 houses served eviction notice, classifying them as encroachers in their land and forest. He appeal the Government to honor community rights over their forest.

Joseph Hmar, Hmar Inpui shared that land is not just for livelihood, but also inalienable for culture and identity. Its unfortunate forest given more importance than people in policy formulations. Policies affecting land and forest need be framed with community participation and rights recognition. The Tipaimukh dam threatens to destroy more than 27,000 hectares of forest land in Manipur. Rampant logging happens in Tipaimukh region but Forest Department remains ineffective to prevent deforestation.

John Pamei, environmentalist shared that Land and forest relationship with indigenous peoples critical and the failure to consult communities caused much tension among communities. The implementation of Indiaís Act East policy led to multiple projects, dams, oil exploration, roads, trans Asian railways, oil pipelines etc. that will further target and destroy forest land in Tamenglong and other areas. Six dams pursued in Tamenglong and these will unleash massive devastation. There are cases of forest department promoting forestry in community land and later claim as forest department land after maturing of trees.

Ms. Shanthalembi Lisam, Academician expressed concern with the shortage of water due to pine cultivation and other mono plantations. The sustainable forest regeneration that is community oriented and friendly to environment is the need of the hour.

The consultation took general recommendations to urge the Government to recognize indigenous peoplesí rights over their land and forest and further to amend and repeal forest laws that are detrimental to rights of indigenous communities. The consultation called to desist unsustainable development projects that destroy forest land and to stop promoting non-native trees and monocultivation in Manipur, such as palm oil cultivation in Manipur. The meeting also called to stop false solution for climate change targeting forest land and to stop all forms of forced eviction of communities living and depending on forest.

The participants also expressed concern with the show cause notices for declaration of protected areas, reserved forest, national parks and the urgent threats to indigenous peoples with forced displacement, land alienation and impact on their culture and identify. The meeting also resolved to approach all redressal mechanisms including the Human Rights commissions, legal mechanisms and even International Indigenous peoplesí human rights bodies to recognize indigenous peoplesí rights over forest land and further to strengthen empowering communities on indigenous peoples forest rights.

 consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur
consultation on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Rights in Manipur



(Sanaton Laishram)
President Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur


* This info was sent to e-pao.net by Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur who can be contacted at cra(DOT)manipur(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on February 28, 2023 .



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