Cabinet approves amendment to state policy for review of unauthorized religious constructions

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IMPHAL, March 6: The recent sitting of the state cabinet has approved for the amendment to the Manipur Policy for review of unauthorized construction of religious nature in public estates, public parks, public places etc.

According to a highly placed official source the matter has been brought up as special agenda of the recently held cabinet meeting of the state government convened under the chairmanship of Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh at his official bungalow on March 1 following an official tabulation from state revenue minister.

The official source further mentioned that, the state revenue minister while presenting the issue before the recent cabinet meeting produced the official reports indicating the past rulings of the Supreme Court of India before the said cabinet meeting.

As per the official report presented during the recent cabinet meeting by the state revenue minister, it has been mentioned that the Supreme Court of India in SLP(C) No. 8519 of 2006 (Union of India Vs State of Gujarat and Others) passed directions on September, 29 2009 to all the states and Union Territories that no fresh unauthorized constructions shall be carried or permitted in the name of Temple, Church, Mosque or Gurudwara etc on public streets, public park or other public places etc.

Further, by order dated February, 16 2010, the Supreme Court of India directed all the states and Union Territories to formulate a comprehensive policy regarding the removal/relocation/regularization of the unauthorized structures of religious nature within six months from the date of order.

In the meantime, in compliance of the Supreme Court’s direction a draft Manipur state policy was prepared. The policy was approved by the state cabinet on March 30 last year and notified on April 3 of the same year.

The official source further mentioned that, after studying the provisions of the Manipur policy and taking a view of the complicacy and sensitivity of the issue involved, it has become necessary to contemplate certain amendments in the policies of the state as laid down that, in the meeting of the state Review Committee formed in connection with the issue, which held on December 12 last year under the chairmanship of the state Chief Secretary DS Poonia, it was noted that as per the Rules of Business of the state government, all matters relating to the custody and disposal of government khasland and eviction of unauthorized occupants thereon vest with the Revenue Department. Therefore, the Manipur Policy 2010 may be amended to designate the revenue department as the nodal department. Hence clause 1©, 2(a), 2(c), 2(d), 2(f), 2(g), of the policy may be suitably amended, the sources added.

The official source further mentioned that, it has been officially suggested that since the issue is highly sensitive in nature, the religious structures already existing prior to the order of September, 29, 2009 in public places where there is no congestions etc. may be allowed to continue and may be considered for regularization after detailed survey on case to case basis. It may further be ascertained that such structure conform to land use pattern, do not obstruct laying of infrastructure, not used for some personal interest, not spoil the social fabric of the place etc.

The source further mentioned that, regularization by way of lease/allotment may be preferred, where possible. Besides avoiding law and order situations, it will generate revenue for government. The land may be allotted in the name of the deity through Shebati or the management committee of such religious structures, as the case may be. It may make an application to the concerned local body. The proposal will be examined by a committee headed by the district Deputy Commissioner who will pass the final order with the prior approval of the state review committee headed by the chief secretary, the source added.

It further mentioned that, in case of such structures on government department lands, the revenue department will refer the matter to the review committee, in case of the unauthorized religious construction is causing any obstructions to the traffic etc. it shall be considered for regularization only if the management or institution agrees to its relocation to the extend of obstruction. All deputy commissioners may be directed that whenever new lay-outs are approved, provision shall be made for such structures to come up only in the lands earmarked for public purposes and only with the proper permission in writing and the policy needs adequate publicity to facilitate enforcement and encourage regularizations.

Placing all these official documentations before the recently held cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh at his official bungalow, the state cabinet has approve the amendment to the Manipur Policy for review of unauthorized construction of religious nature in public states, public parks, public places the official source added.

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