Villagers of Phayeng, enraged over massive deforestation in disputed border forest areas, which they claimed is brought on by nearby villagers, on Tuesday sought government's intervention to save Phayeng forest.
The disputed locations are the areas connecting Phayeng Umang (a community reserve forest) under Imphal West and Kangchup Chiru Reserve Forest under Kangpokpi district.
A team of media persons along with the members of Phayeng Apunba Umang Committee (PAUC) led by Khullakpa (chief) of Phayeng village, Ningthoujam Toyai Chakpa, visited the disputed forest areas where large-scale trees have been cut down allegedly by neighbouring villagers.
“It is unfortunate that some people are clearing the forest while the villagers of Phayeng have been preserving the forest since the last 60 years,” Toyai told mediapersons.
Such outcomes have caused a great hindrance to the environment, thereby causing water scarcity at Phayeng village, he said, adding, “The condition of water stock for Imphal city is uncertain as the villagers of Phayeng have started facing water shortages.”
Stressing the need for immediate intervention of the state government on this issue, he said the valley population will perish within a year due to drought if such deforestation continues.
He also pointed out that saving the Loktak Lake mission of the state government will be meaningless and useless unless the government saves the forest in the hill ranges from Koubru Hill till Thangjing Hill, which is the main source of water.
Former pradhan of Phayeng GP Angom Gojendro said such mass scale deforestation has had a big impact on climate change and the villagers are in fear of massive natural forest fire due to its dryness.
According to the Manipur Darbar record of 1924, the area of the Kangchup Reserve Forest was only 2.59 square km, he said, adding that surprisingly the Divisional Forest Officer of Kangpokpi district has recently declared the area Kangchup Reserve Forest as 6.88 square km, without conducting any survey.
Contending that the disputed areas falls under Imphal West district as per the Revenue department record, the former pradhan sought immediate intervention of the state government to demarcate the district border by conducting a thorough and a smooth survey.
It is worth mentioning that in 2016, Phayeng became India’s first Model Carbon Positive Eco-Village under the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change.
The village has reportedly been resurrected from a dry and denuded village of the 1960s by ways of conserving and protecting the surrounding forest.