IMPHAL June 27: The different communities of Naga river colony, also known as Kabow Leikai who will be affected by the proposed expansion of the Imphal Hotel and subsequent land acquisition, related their grievances to the national fact finding team led by Dr. John Dayal, member of National Integration Council, New Delhi, this morning.
The team had arrive in the state on a mission to find out about the decision taken by Manipur government to convert Imphal Hotel up to five star category by acquiring Naga river colony.
After today’s visit at the colony, the fact finding team held a press conference at the Manipur press club situated at, Imphal. The meeting with residents of the colony today gave various points for the government to ponder upon.
According to Dr Dayal the finding of the team is that the government of Manipur has learnt no lessons from the evolving situation in various parts of the country from Orissa, Bengal, Maharastra to Delhi, Noida and Hariyana on issues of land acquisition.
Many governments have now agreed that they will not interfere as procurers of land meant for the private or joint sector and will let the entrepreneurs to negotiate directly with the landowners and residents.
He further added that it is quite clear from the narrative of events that the government has been in undue haste in the entire process of acquiring land, issuing notifications even before assessment of the hotel’s needs were available. This gives credence to the apprehensions of the villagers that there are malafides in the government’s intentions and the entire exercise may be just for the benefit of some unknown rich and politically powerful persons.
The colony with a population of 500 in 32 houses consist of all major religions including Hindus , Muslims and Christians who are in majority. Ethically, the finding said that they represent as wide a diversity including Meiteis, Nepalese and various tribes of Naga and Kukis.
There are three churches, one temple and several graves. Demolition of the churches and graves will be desecration and will violate the freedom of faith guaranteed under the constitution, he added.
Villagers are also apprehensive that the tension in the area and the heavy police presence as the area is under section 144 may aggravate the situation and may in future become communal and ethnic issue with outsiders becoming involved. The villagers are firm that they do not want to leave the village, both for sentimental reasons and for economic reasons, including employment. The villagers fear that the authorities may forcibly confiscate their pattas to rob them of their legal rights on the land, he added.
Further the team has recommended that the Chief Minister must call the villagers for face to face discussions to respond to their apprehensions. Section 144 must be revoke and there must be no effort to stop free movement of the citizens in the area. There is sufficient land in the hotel and in the nearby government properties to suit even really huge luxury hotels. It may once again be stressed that modern luxury hotels throughout the world including those in New Delhi are in less land than currently under Hotel Imphal, he aded.
Public Private partnership models must not be for benefit of a few. In future, effected people must be given an opportunity to be part of the PPP with guarantees of profit sharing, employment and other befits that may accrue. Livelihood, security, and community life must not be disrupted. Prima facie, there does not seem to be any need to acquire the village land to make a luxury hotel. Hotel Imphal expansion and its upgradation can be fruitfully done on existing land under its ownership.
Dr. Dayal, who is also one of the members of National Integeration council, during the press meet, said that the subsequent copy of the finding will be submitted to the Governor, CM, and other concerned heads of state minority department and also to national level leaders.
Calling for transparency in government procedure works, he disclosed that no facts could be obtained from the government’s side in this issue.
The fact finding visit was joined by Madhu Chandra – spokesperson of Northeast India support centre & helpline and public relation officer of All India Christian Council along with many other social activists and human rights activist from different parts of Manipur.
The National Fact finding Team is an amalgamation of various NGOs and civil society that works and voice for the betterment and welfare of the society from the violation of human rights. The team has been involved in many major national issues since the last several years, he added.