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A forest fire in Manipur. The Principal Chief Conservator Forest, Manipur came down heavily on the CGI report giving false, misleading data of his department.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Manipur, Castigates EGI Report as Concocted and One-Sided

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Forces, Government of Manipur, S.S.Chhabra, in a lengthy clarification today, pointed out how baseless the charges levelled against the Manipur Forest Department by the thee-member fact finding team of the Editors Guild of India is.

In a point by point rebuttal, the PCCF, showed how blindly presumptuous the team’s claims were regarding his department.

Among others the clarification said there have been no declaration of Reserved Forest or Protected Forest in Manipur after the last one in January 4, 1990 in the case of Reserved Forest and June 18, 1979 in the case of Protected Forest.

The clarification also gave a long history of forest management and laws in Manipur from records maintained during precolonial, colonial and postcolonial times.

It also clarified why the EGI report was completely wrong about Kukis being specifically targeted for eviction from Reserved Forests and Protected Forest, giving figures and dates of eviction drives carried out by the department during which 413 houses have been evicted between October 2015 and April 2023. These figures clearly show Kukis were not the primary target, and in fact, houses belonging to Kukis thus evicted were only distant third in number as compared to houses of other communities in the state.

It also rubbished the claim by the EGI report that the evictions were arbitrary and not done through legal channels. It explained each and every eviction case, why previous orders legalising encroaching villages in Reserved Forests and Protected Forest had to be rescinded, because in the first place, the previous orders were outside the provisions of the law, hinting at corrupt practices by some past officials of the department.

The PCCF also came out strongly against the claim of the EGI report that a forest office burnt down by a Kuki mob was published as a Kuki house burning. The statement also gave a list of 18 forest offices burnt down by Kuki mobs in Kuki dominated areas, the date they were burnt and extent of damages the fire cost to the buildings as well as furnitures and important office documents.

The PCCF called the EGI report with regards to the Manipur Forest Department manufactured, concocted, incorrect and one-sided without verification from the Forest Department or any other competent authority.

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