COPTAM laments govt apathy to demands

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IMPHAL, December 21: The Committee on Protection of Tribal Areas, Manipur (COPTAM) has warned the government to look after their rightful and reasonable demands and stop pursuing determined policies to exploit the land and rights of tribal people of Manipur, said Thangkam Lupheng, general secretary of the committee.

During a press meet convened by COPTAM at Manipur Press Club, Thangkham Lupheng said that COPTAM submitted numerous memorandum and petitions during the last four years to the state government demanding immediate solutions to the various issues plaguing the hills.

He further brought up the issue of delay in the transfer of land records to respective districts. Last June, the State Cabinet and Revenue Commission have issued directives on transfer of all the land records of every district but the land records of Tamenglong and Chandel districts from Thoubal district and Jiribam ADC is still awaiting, he added.

He urged the concerned minister and department to speed up transfer process of hill district land records of said district to their respective hill district headquarters.

Advocating the maintenance of the original district boundary in order to avoid problems like overlapping in administration function of the districts, he said due to the lack of clarity in district boundaries, the census enumerators got confused in performing their duties.

About burning issue of the police district boundary and police stations jurisdictions, he said many hill villages are under the valley police jurisdiction and added whatever the explanation from the side of the administration it has caused inconvenience to the tribal people. He regretted that there is no sign of creating police station in the hill districts in spite of repeated demands and wanted the matter to be treated with urgency.

The attempt to introduce Panchayati Raj Institutions and Municipalities/Urban Local Bodies in the hill area of Manipur at this juncture is unreasonable and detrimental to the very existence of our age-old traditional system and institutions and evasive way of depriving the hill people of their ancestral land and right since Autonomous District Council was introduced by the Parliament in 1971-72, he said.

He asserted the existence of the Hill Area Committee has become for namesake only and the MLAs from the hills should tender their resignations if they cannot ensure the optimal functioning of the committee, which he termed as the guardian of the hills. Lupheng further spoke in support of empowerment of the Autonomous District Councils for speedy development and peace-full co-existence in tribal areas.

In recapitulation, he said the government had been evading the rightful demands of the tribals and fore-warned that the committee will launch a public movement if it is not fulfilled within January, 2014.

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