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Contemplations over the contentions

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“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” —Ancient Indian Proverb The opposing stands on the three bills passed unanimously by the state assembly on 31 August last year after a public outrage against the state government demanding stringent measures to ensure the protection of indigenous inhabitants of the state from the increasing influx of migrants has evidently hardened. The All party delegation headed by the Chief Minister which will be heading for the national capital to push for the assent of the President in order for the three bills: The protection of Manipur People Bill 2015, The Manipur Land Revenue & and Land Reforms (7th Amendment) Bill 2015 and The Manipur Shops and Establishments (2nd Amendment) Bill 2015 to become acts has expressed in no uncertain terms that the enactment of the bills is a must and nothing short of it is acceptable. The delegation was formed after 33 representatives of different political parties including Congress, BJP, MPP, CPI, LJP and Trinamool Congress among others agreed on the issue after deliberations and discussions which included the vehement objections raised against the bills by a section of the population. On the other hand, the NPF and other civil Society organizations, especially in Churachandpur District are alleging the bills to be anti-tribal, raising apprehensions about the possible loss of control of hill areas by the tribals to the inhabitants of the valleys. While the sentiments of the hill people and their apprehensions are understandable, the fact of the matter is that there is a stark imbalance in the landholding laws existing in the state that needs to be rationalized and amended at the earliest. Until and unless the lop-sided land laws are rectified, the increasing pressure on the limited and meagre valley area will ignite more agitations and outrage for reforms. It is also absurd, and rather far-fetched for the hill people to jump to the conclusion that the three bills are devised to rob them of their hold on the hill areas as the very land in the hills are owned not by individuals but by the chiefs of the villages which makes the claims by hill-dwelling individuals of their lands being threatened untenable. In any case, the rapidly increasing pace of urbanization which is putting even greater strain on the valley is bound to explode and radiate outwards on all sides sooner or later, and the people of the state, instead of trying to secure their personal interests, should accept and prepare for such an inevitable future. If one would care to take a different perspective on the issue, the increase in the settlement of hitherto uninhabited areas of the state will increase the prospect of generating more avenues for employment and earnings, and with the naturally endowed beauty and friendly climate, there is no doubt that the state can truly be transformed into the “Switzerland of India” and “Jewel of India” as visitors from outside the state have variously described. The need of the hour, keeping in mind the future of the state and its inhabitants, is to take a long hard look and accept the changes that are happening as well learn to accept and prepare for the inevitable future instead of trying to cling on to the fading past.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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