Imphal: Saikot AC MLA Paolienlal Haokip has contended the claim of Principal Chief Conservator of Forest(PCCF), contending that the 1951 notification declaring Dampi Reserved Forest is liable to be declared null and void as the notification skipped some procedures as required under Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Arguing the PCCF’s clarification with regard to the 1951 notification of Dampi Reserved Forest, the MLA charged that the notification declaring Dampi Reserved Forest neither has any reference to the appointment of a Forest Settlement Officer, as required under Indian Forest Act, 1927 nor does it record any settlement of claims, as should be the case like in other standard notifications. He demanded the Forest Department to furnish proof of the appointment of a Forest Settlement Officer and any claims settled by such Officer, proof of pre-existing villages being notified the intent of the government in vernacular etc, as prescribed by law.“ Absence of proof of such procedural requirements having been duly followed would imply that the notification itself is without the force of law and liable to be declared null and void,” the MLA asserted.
MLA Paolienlal said, “If such notification of Reserved Forests has been carried out without due process, taking undue advantage of tribal chiefs’ ignorance, such atrocities are prohibited under the law. Conservation of forest aims at human welfare, not inhuman prosecution of human beings”.
He said that besides being an advocate of conservation of forest and protection of wild life, he is equally an advocate of rule of law and just application of the law. He maintained that he has noted the various provisions of law the PCCF has cited, which shall all apply provided the 1951 notification of Dampi Reserved Forest was in accordance and full compliance of the procedures specified in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Conveying that he has written to the Minister of Forest & Environment and Climate Change on the subject, he requested the Forest Officer refer to the same.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest says Reserved Forest Beyond Purview of Hill Area Committee
Earlier, reacting against the DO letter of Saikot AC MLA Paolienlal Haokip who intervened against the show-cause notice served by Divisional Forest Office, Churachandpur over encroachment within Dampi Reserved Forest, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Government of Manipur clarified that Reserved Forests is beyond the purview of the Hill Area Committee under any Act/rule. The PCCF also recollected that Dampi Reserved Forest was notified by the Government vide Notification No. FR-8/51 issued on August 1, 1951 for conservation and development of forests including wildlife and the notification was published as Manipur Gazette No.28 issued on August 8, 1951. The management of which is under the control of DFO Churachandpur Forest Division and all the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and Rules made thereunder are applicable in the RF. He also reminded that the Supreme Court in its order passed on December 12, 1996 passed in Writ petition No.202 of 1995 has held that the provisions of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 shall be applicable to all the forests, irrespective of legal status of ownership including the Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Unclassed Forests. As such, encroachment, breaking of lands, recognition of villages inside the forest lands etc. is in violation of the provisions of the Act. Besides, the apex court had directed in various cases for eviction of encroachers from forest lands, the PCCF had stated.