The Manipur Forest Department after going through the Editors' Guild of India's (EGI) report of the fact-finding mission on media's reportage of the ethnic violence in the state published on September 2, 2023 stated that a report and a photo being carried in the report by the EGI is completely false, concocted, and without any basis.
The forest department of Manipur has slammed EGI for neither consulting the department, nor cross-checking the authenticity of the report and photograph before the same is published in the public domain.
The department thus felt that unless clarifications are made, the report will lead to misinformation to the public and authorities and also tarnish the reputation of the department.
In their first clarification with regards to reserved forest or protected forest as part of Hills, the forest department mentions that no reserved forest of protected forest has been declared during the tenure of the N Biren Singh government. There are 37 reserved forests and 23 protected forests in the state of Manipur. "Out of the 23 protected forests, 17 protected forests are notified by the Chief Commissioner, Manipur from 21.11.1951 to 17.1.1970 and the remaining 6 PFs were notified by the State Government on 18.6.1979 under Section 29 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The total areas of the RFs and PFs are 984 Sa. Km and 4,171 Sq. Km respectively which account for only about 4.4 per cent and 18.6 per cent of the geographical area of the State", mentions a letter of clarification by the forest department of Manipur.
Additionally, the forest department refutes report of CM N Biren Singh-led government notifying reserved forest or protected forest. "Therefore, the report of the EGI that the declaration of new reserved forests and protected forests in the Hills by the N. Biren Singh government, cancellation of land ownership documents in these areas, and eviction drive led to violent confrontation between the state authorities and the Kuki-zo community is without basis", quips forest department in its letter.
With regards to eviction, the forest department in its letter laid down the clarification that he eviction of encroachers from the reserved forests and protected forests was not only in non-Naga inhabited areas. The eviction drive of the Forest Department, Manipur is not against any community. Encroachers, irrespective of community, against whom no court case or any other case is pending are evicted as per the Acts and Rules. As mentioned in para No.2, out of the 413 encroachers evicted from October, 2015 to April 2023, only 59 encroachers are from Kuki community which also includes 21 unoccupied huts constructedinside the Kanglatongbi-Kamgpokpi reserved forest and the remaining are 143 Meitei, 137 Meitei Pangal, 38 Naga and 36 Nepali"
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