The Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary Affected Villages (ZWSAV) committee has demanded de-notification of Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary claiming that the official notification to declare the village land as a wildlife sanctuary was not made known to the public.
In a memorandum submitted to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force (PCCF & HoFF), ZWSAV stated that state government issued a gazette notification on April 4, 1997 indicating its intention to declare a wildlife sanctuary in the Zeilad region, wherein, the notification a scheduled area of about 21.00 square km has adequate ecological, fauna, flora geomorphological, natural, and ecological significance.
In pursuant to the notification issued by the state government, a District Collector, Tamenglong issued a notification on That on October 22, 1997 declaring the village land as wildlife sanctuary and for which an open invitation was given for necessary objection. However, no such notification was made known to the public. Further, the notification is not in accordance with section 21 of The Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972 as it was not published in regional language. Therefore, no reasonable information was obtained by the affected villages, the ZWSAV stated.
Again, on September 22, 2015 a notification No. S.O. 2599 (E) October 2015 was issued by the Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Manipur, wherein, in the notification an open invitation was again published for objection and suggestion from all people likely to be affected. Subsequently, after a period of about six days the said notification was made available to all public. This notification was also not made known to the public or the affected villagers, it added.
Further, on October 20, 2016 to our utter shock, a Gazette notification No. O.S. 3309 (E) October 2016 was published by Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Manipur, wherein, it is mentioned that an area to an extent varying from 3.5 to 13.0 kilometers from the boundary of Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of Manipur as Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary Eco-Sensitive Zone.
Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary was established with an aim to conserve and protect the unique ecosystem of seven lakes, seven-step Barak waterfall and semi Evergreen and wet hill forest hosting varied flora and fauna, including Leopard, Leopard Cat, small Indian Civet, Common Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, Great Indian Hornbill, Barking Deer, Flying Squirrel, Slow Loris, Golden Cat, Sambre, Jackal, Pangolin, Wild Boars, Seasonal Migration of Tiger and Elephant, among others. However, most of the wild animals/species mentioned in the schedule were not and are not in existence within the boundary of the sanctuary. Therefore, it is pertinent to mention that the establishment of Zeilad Wildlife sanctuary does not serve its purpose, it stated.
The areas mentioned in the notification have been declared arbitrarily without getting any consent from the affected villages. and hence the notification is bound to be withdrawn, ZWSAV maintained.
Although there is a need to protect and conserve wildlife and its ecosystem, the same should not be done at the cost of human livelihood. In the present case, the entire land belonging to the affected tribal villages have been arbitrarily acquired without following the procedure established by law.
In the name of protecting fictitious wildlife species, the wellbeing as well as the livelihood of the people living in this wildlife sanctuary area have been greatly impacted, the ZWSAV added.
ZWSAV comprises about 18 affected villages.