Manipur forest and environment minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar on July 5 appealed to the illegal encroachers settling at the reserve forest areas to shift to another place at the earliest.

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Addressing media persons at the forest guest house in Moreh, the minister said that the department has been continuously evicting illegal encroachers from the reserve forest areas in the past. He said the department will continue its eviction drive across the reserve forest areas in the state including Langol, Tarung, Iroisemba, Andro, Kakching Khunou among others.

Stating that the Forest Rights Act, 2006 covers the tribal settlement before 2005, he said the act gives provisions to the tribal people that they have to be given an alternative settlement arrangement before eviction. He emphasised that those settling in the reserve forest areas after 2005 are not covered by the act.

Cautioning the people not to misuse the Forest Rights Act, 2006, he said the forest department will take help from the Google map and take up the base year to cross check the claims of the year of the settlements.

Stating that the eviction drive is not vested against any person or community, he said the government is working in the interest of the people of the State and to conserve the environment. Welcoming the opinions and suggestions of the citizens of the state, he said the government needs full cooperation of the people.

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He further appealed to the departments concerned to cross check and intimate the forest department before giving any land deed (patta) involving forest land. He suggested that the people should come forward and check the periphery of the protected forest lands which will further help to conserve the environment.

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