IMPHAL, February 8: Indigenous Peoples Association of Kangleipak chairman Sapamcha Jadumani has appealed to the people against selling off land to outsiders other than the indigenous communities and use of paddy fields for construction of houses to protect the paddy fields.
Speaking in a press meet held at the association’s Keishampat office, Jadumani said paddy fields should be left for only agricultural activities and structures like house should not be constructed there.
The press meet was also attended by Kontha Ahallup Development Organisation secretary Angom Romendro, IPAK HRD secretary Ng Iboyaima Mangang.
Jadumani said the valley districts occupy only 2233 sq km of the State’s total size of 22327 sq km.
Of this the Loktak Lake occupies another 600 sq km, he said.
Jadumani continued after excluding the water bodies, hills, school buildings, government buildings, Army quarters and others, the area left for the Meiteis and Meitei Pangals could be just about 5 percent.
He said this meagre 5 percent also includes 64 Kabui villages and some recent settlements.
He continued paddy fields must occupy just about three percent of the total land size. Paddy fields are also being sold off every day, and various structures like schools, brick farms and buildings are being constructed on these paddy fields, he added.
Jadumani said the State government had passed the Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2014 in 2014 with the aim of stopping all such constructions; however, the situation is more like the Act has not been implemented, he added.
Terming the authorities failure to implement the Act properly as unfortunate, he said due to the failure, the paddy fields are diminishing in size which is also negatively affecting the production of food grains.
Jadumani continued in this regard, the Kontha Ahallup Development Organisation had submitted written memorandums twice to the SDO Imphal East to check construction of houses in paddy fields. The memorandums were submitted on December 28, 2015 and January 28, 2016.
He said since the authorities concerned failed to take any action, IPAK and KADO had jointly filed a PIL on January 30 at the Manipur High Court which was produced before the court on February 2.
He said the Court has directed the respondents of the PIL to reply within three weeks.
The respondents are government of Manipur, chief secretary, Commissioner (Revenue), Law and Legislative Affairs secretary, chairman Local Level monitoring Committee/ SDO Heingang Circle, he said.
However, what is more important is that some people who don’t even know Manipuri were found constructing homes in the middle of a paddy field located at Kontha Ahallup, Heingang, he said.
He said IPAK will also conduct certain awareness programmes on the issue and later organise a mass rally.