IMPHAL, December 17: Disgruntled over the government’s decision to set up a Pony sanctuary at Heingang pat area after acquisition of ‘agricultural land’, the Committee on Protection of Agriculture Land Heingang today staged a sit-in-protest.
Today’s sit in protest was attended by farmers and meira paibis.
Speaking to media persons, Nongthombam Mangi, secretary of the committee said that around 26 paris (approx. 110 acres) of arable land will be acquired by the government for the sanctuary.
Although the government’s proposal to set up a sanctuary for the world famous ‘Manipuri pony’ in their locality is welcomed, the people of the area have no other choice but to condemn the government notification for acquisition of agricultural land. People believe that Heingang is the birth place of the indigenous pony; however, setting up of the sanctuary at the area will mean that many poor farmers will loss their lands which are their only source of income, he lamented.
Elaborating further on the government action, he said on August 26, 2013, the state cabinet approved the decision and later on August 30, 2013, the government issued a notification to the 101 affected pattadar farmers for the land acquisition.
Waikhom Nimai, assistant secretary of the committee also said that since the period of Maharaj Budhachandra, the wet lands of Heingang were granted to the people for agricultural practices and official pattas were issued by the state Darbar in 1943.
Though the setting up of the pony sanctuary is welcoming, the government should also consider the plight of the poor farmers, who have been depending on their agricultural fields for their source of income.
He continued that if the government acquire their lands, the farmers who are mostly hand to mouth families, will be overburdened.
He said the water body of the Heingang Pat is also very popular for fishing.
There are also farmers who survive from fishing at the water body, he said before adding that a farmer can easily earn about Rs one lakh in a yearfrom fishing there. He further urged the government to consider the plight of the people of the
Heingang area and to acquire the needed land for the pony sanctuary from the hills which are not arable around the Ebudhou Marjing area on the other side of the Hill of Heingang, he added.