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Manipur plea on land

Imphal, July 5: Citizens’ organisations in Manipur today urged the state government to make the draft of Rights to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Social impact assessment and consent) (Manipur) Rules, 2014, available in all major languages.

The organisations also demanded proper and widespread discussions on the rules before these are enforced so as to make the rules effective.

The rules are drafted under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Thirteen citizens’ organisations working on rights issues submitted a joint memorandum to governor Vinod Kumar Duggal, chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, revenue minister Th. Debendtro Singh and chairman, Hill Areas Committee, Chaltonlien Amo, listing six demands.

The Ibobi Singh government published the draft rules on June 17 in a gazette notification seeking objections and suggestions from the interested parties within one month of the issue of the gazette notification in English.

The memorandum demanded the notification be published in all major languages of Manipur and make them available in all district and divisional headquarters. The notification said copies of the draft rules would be available only in the office of under secretary (revenue), located at South Block.

The memorandum also sought a notification on clear process of engagement and finalisation of the draft after taking into consideration suggestions, comments and objections. The organisations want a new deadline for receipt of objections and suggestions.

The organisations found flaws in the draft rules.

“It is clear that the rules are not at all rooted in local realities, traditions and experiences. For example, in both the hills and valley, the draft rules lack understanding of existing land ownership rights,” the memorandum said.

Ram Wangkheirakpam, director of Indigenous Perspectives, who signed the memorandum on behalf of the NGOs, said consultations should be held at the district level and a final consultation at the state level before finalisation of the draft.

“We must not end up with a piece of legislation that most people in Manipur do not understand or agree with,” he said.

Arguing that the draft rules are inadequate and defectively reflect the peculiar and specific needs of the people of Manipur, the NGOs demanded discussions with all stakeholders.