IMPHAL, Jul 24: The Kuki chiefs have unanimously resolved on Thursday to oppose in toto the Manipur Government’s New Land Use Policy (NLUP), the Village Development Committee (VDC) Act, and the Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013, conveyed a press release issued by Kuki Inpi Manipur.
Subsequent to the filing of a formal complaint to the Government of Manipur on July 16, 2014, over 570 Kuki village chiefs hold a meeting under the aegis of the Kuki Inpi at Kuki Inn, Imphal on Thursday, the release said and added that Dr. Joseph Suantak presented a paper on NLUP and KC Guite, legal advisor of Kuki Inpi exhorted the chiefs on the issue.
The NLUP advocated by the Mizoram Government cannot apply to the hill districts of Manipur. Unlike the land holding system in Mizoram, where the lands are all community lands, the lands in the hills district of Manipur are in the hands of our traditional chieftains. Mizoram is a tribal State as declared by the Constitution and ILP system is in operation, but the case is not so in Manipur state, which is a threat to our tribal way of life.
In Kuki villages where there exists a traditional form of administration, the lands are utilized judiciously and properly. They practice traditional methods of farming and maintain the ecosystem. Article 371C gives a special provision in respect to the Hill Areas to the State of Manipur for protection of the people and their way of life. So the people who live in the hill areas do not require this New Land Use Policy because it is in total contravention to our traditional land use system, which takes into account the ecological and environmental aspects, it mentioned in the release.
Our traditional village administration is handed down through generations from time immemorial, and is still in practiced today. The newly formed Village Development Committee (VDC) is alien to us. We administer our villages customarily without any encumbrance while the VDC would completely affect the traditional and cultural set up of the Kuki people, and therefore not applicable to us.
Today, areas under jhum cultivation have also come down in spite of growing population pressure. Many jhum cultivators have now shifted to plantation farming instead. There are also instances where wastelands have also been developed without any monetary assistance from the government. It is a matter of time that the practice of jhum cultivation will finally come to an end. In fact, the government must pump in capitals in the hill districts for plantation farming, animal husbandry, it added.
The forests are the source of sustenance for the tribal people and the people always take good care of it. The finger pointing attitude of government agencies that the tribal people are not capable of taking care of their lands are just hyperboles to get their hands on the pie and to obtain funds from the central, it continued.
The hill people don’t need this NLUP. What they needed most to conserve their lands are funds for farming which the government always found it scarce to provide. The irony is that while the government have ample of funds for projects in the valley, there is always the scarcity of fund for livelihood in the hills, it said.
By bringing the Right to Fair Compensation Act, the government is harping on forced acquisition of land as in the carrot and stick policy. All through history of statehood, the state government had been playing a cat and mouse game with tribal chiefs. The MLR&LR Act, Village Authority Acts, Reserve Forests Acts, JFMC, Village Development Committee (VDC) Act, etc. are the tools the government used to subdue the tribal chiefs. These Acts are all in contravention with our cultural and traditional set up. The hill people don’t want compensation.
Therefore, the Kuki Chiefs have appealed the Government to be sincere and honest while dealing with the tribal people and scrap the proposed Right to Fair Compensation Act, 2014 and the New Land Use Policy 2014, the Village Development Committee (VDC) Act, which are antagonistic to the interests of the tribal people. If the government fails to abrogate these Acts, the Kuki Inpi and other tribal organizations will be forced to take a course of action which is not in the best interests of the government. If the authority is bent on enacting its policies, it should implement these acts and policies only in the valley districts but not in the hill districts of Manipur, it insisted.