An agricultural land acquired for setting up a hospital has turned into a dumping site in Imphal East, Manipur.
Permission was given for the construction of a hospital at the agricultural land located at 9-Khabam Chumbreithong area some years ago, but now the area has turned into a dumping site, causing distress to the people living in the surrounding area.
“And since the construction of the hospital has not begun, the dumping site has polluted the area with waste and stench coming from the wastes, affecting the health of the people living in the area,” said Mutum Churamani, president, Loumee Shinmee Apun Lup (LOUSAL), a farmers group in Manipur.
The agricultural land adjacent to the dumping site was also acquired for the said hospital, he said, speaking at the dumping site on agricultural land that was acquired for a hospital construction.
Churamani said that extension agriculture officer of Imphal East had come to the site and inspected it. However, the officer stated that using agriculture land for construction and other purpose or purpose of homestead land is handled by the revenue department and, said he will discuss the matter with the department concerned.
The agricultural land from Chairenthong to Chinggaren of Imphal East district has also been levelled up to the road level for other construction and commercial purposes.
“However, due to complaints, some areas were dug out but the same could not be done at some areas as they belong to powerful men,” he said.
Similarly, in Bishnupur district, the top soil of some agricultural lands was dug up. But following a complaint to the concerned district deputy commissioner, the LOUSAL unit president was able to block digging out the fields. However, they could not stop a vehicle from digging as it belongs to a cabinet minister, he informed.
Again, at Langathel, the top soil of a paddy field was dug up and taken to other places without restoring it, all in violation of the district magistrate’s order, Churamani said.
It may be mentioned that after the enactment of Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2014, the Manipur government allowed the setting up of hospital, shopping mall, multi-storey complex on agricultural land in public interest.
However, several "VIPs and affluent people" in the state buy agricultural land and use them for constructions beyond the permit of the state government, Churamani said. He said that these affluent individuals and VIPs buy agricultural land and construct anything without prior permission but to only take permission later, mostly after work has begun.
“Many affluent individuals and VIPs construct anything without getting prior permission from concerned authorities and then take permission later,” Churamani said, asking whether the general public should remain silent when affluent persons acquire agricultural land.
“If lawmaker breaks and violates the law then who will protect the land… One day, the state will not have agricultural land for production if it continues and all paddy lands are turned into commercial purposes,” he said, adding that the state government should take up stringent action against the erring people.
The state government should look into the matter seriously and take action according to the Act to prevent further violation of the act, he added.
As several agricultural lands are left unutilized, Churamani suggested that agricultural lands can be turned into a good sports venue if the owners want to turn them into turf grounds. Turf grounds are not affordable for all players but a good sports venue will provide access to all, he said.