Forest and Environment Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar on Tuesday announced that the eviction drive at the encroached Manipur Reserve Forest (RF) areas in the state will start after April 10.
Thounaojam Shyamkumar announced after an inspection trip in and around the Ngariyan Reserve Forest located along Imphal-Yairipok route last afternoon. The encroached site was located close to the Keirao Wangkhem area.
During the inspection, Minister Shyamkumar accompanied by the officials from three departments found that the encroachers had put up fencing on the road. The team also found that road was cut to make a path near the Sera Garden and fencing was put on the road side.
The Minister instructed Forest officials to take up necessary action against the encroacher. The encroached area comes under the jurisdiction of the Thoubal Forest Division under Ngariyan Forest Range.
Even though Manipur stood first among all NE states in protecting its RF areas, many areas under RF were encroached. There are 37 RFs in the state covering an area of 984.25 sq km. Around 3,878.85 sq km of forest land out of the 45,377 sq km is reportedly under encroachment in eight NE states, including Assam.
Stating that there is a plan for expansion of the park for which various departments including Forest, Environment, Horticulture and Soil Conservation, Water Resource and locals are being consulted for concept ideas. He said various plantations are being undertaken at the park under Green India Mission and CAMPA schemes under the Forest Department.
He added that he is trying to include the Andro Santhei Natural Park, a popular tourist site in the state located under his assembly constituency in Imphal East district, in the world tourist map within the next two years.
Introduction of cable cars in the existing location of the natural beauty particularly from Naharup Pangong to Khalong, Khalong to Andro will enable the tourist to cover the distance in 10 minutes, he felt. The visitors from Imphal will be ferried in cable car from Naharup Pangong to Andro and the stoppage will be at the Andro village which is just a stone throw from the Andro Santhei Natural Park.
He opined that most of the scenic views of the state such as Moirang, Loktak, Churachandpur and Kangpokpi can be seen from the hill top at Khalong located barely 15 km north of Imphal.
The Minister was also confident that after seeing the natural beauty people will be discouraged to destroy the forest area. He also appealed to the public not to burn the forest areas and focus on conserving the forest and wildlife of the State. He said cooperation is needed from the departments and locals to achieve the target.
Besides to promote the natural beauty, the focus will be on conserving the natural resources and enhancing the area by constructing resorts, planting trees among others to attract tourists.