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Push for land-use policy
- Govt urged to hold district-level awareness meet

Imphal, Jan. 4: A one-day seminar on land use recommended the government prepare a land-use policy and set up State Land Use Board to protect agricultural land.

The recommendations of the seminar, organised on December 15 by Protection of Agriculture Land and Natural Resources Organisation, an Imphal-based NGO, were released today.

The recommendations said the agrarian economy of the state needs a serious public policy to check increasing diversion of agriculture land for non-agricultural purposes in recent past.

Economist N. Mohendro Singh, who chaired the seminar, said the annual reduction of arable land in Manipur was 6,000 hectares.

The latest survey, held a decade back, put the total agricultural land both in the hills and the valley at 952 thousand hectares.

The recommendations demanded setting up of a State Agriculture Statistics Authority for updating land use records and an annual land-use survey by the state revenue department.

President of the NGO Khumanthem Jilla said farmland had been converted to educational institution complexes, petrol pumps, housing colonies and industrial units at a very fast rate.

“Rural employment, rural poverty and rural inequality call for making agriculture an enterprise. The inner strength of the state economy should be the core foundation of any initiative,” the recommendations said.

Stating that awareness of stakeholders is very important, particularly on land-use issues, the seminar urged the government to organise district-level awareness programmes with the help of the district administration.

N. Iboton Singh, a professor of the Central Agricultural University, Imphal, said the state needed a strong legislation to protect transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

Mutum Churamani Singh, an NGO worker, said the recommendations were submitted to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and revenue minister Th. Devendra Singh on Thursday.

“We will give some time to the government to examine the recommendations, consider them and act on them. If the government remains indifferent to the immediate need to protect agriculture land, we will launch a democratic form of agitation till the government takes steps to protect agriculture land,” Churamani said.