The Hill Areas Committee (HAC) recommended bill namely “The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021” is technically and legally sound, which should withstand the test of legal scrutiny anywhere in the country, said Alfred Kanngam Arthur, the Sub-Committee Convener and member of the HAC, on Tuesday. MLA Alfred reiterated that the bill was drafted as per the Constitutional provisions under Article 371 C of Indian Constitution and Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Manipur Legislative Assembly.
He was speaking at the ‘Public Consultative Meeting on HAC Recommended Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021′ organised by the Joint Students’ Body of Churachandpur under the aegis of All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) at YPA Hall, Hiangtam Lamka, Churachandpur.
The meeting was attended by leaders from Civil Society Organisations, students’ bodies, intellectuals, tribes leaders, and other dignitaries.
“We are 100 percent sure that the bill is technically, legally sound and true, which would withstand the test of legal scrutiny. Drafting of the Bill is made as per the Constitutional provisions and the Rule of Law provided by Indian Constitution under Article 371 C, and the rights conferred by the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Manipur Legislative Assembly,” Alfred Kanngam Arthur said.
Referring to the financial statement of the Finance Department with respect to departmental budgetary allocation for the hills and valley, Arfred pointed out the wide disparity budget allocation between hills and valley for the last many years wherein minimal budgetary allocation was made for the hill areas as compared to the valley in each and every single departmental budgetary allocation.
For instance, even the Forest and Horticulture departments which may suppose to be higher in budgetary allocations for the hills have been given minimal finance allocation- differing in terms of hundred crores in comparison to the valley areas.
“I represent the entire people of the hill areas as a member of the HAC. Since the first session of the Manipur Legislative Assembly in 2017, I have requested the government for equal development of the hills areas with more power and function to the HAC, but the present chief minister and his govternment did nothing. Now, we have to come up with this bill. The journey took 4 years to fully realise the aspiration of the hills people and now it’s been put out for the welfare of the people to see,” Alfred said.
He appealed to the people of the hill areas to study the importance of the bill for the future generation of the hill people which provides the rights and aspiration the people, that this bill, when approved as an Act, will change the lives of the hill people.
Denying the chief minister’s allegation of putting out such a bill as an electoral gimmick, former minister and MLA Churachandpur A/C, V. Hangkhanlian, said his allegation was out of context and a complete lie, a propaganda by N. Biren Singh, for divisive politics between the hills people.
He said right after the draft ADC Bill, 2021 was completed, an appointment for a meeting with the chief minister was sought but the same has not been granted till date.
“The main issue is not that the bill was brought before the eve of election as narrated by Biren Singh, but to realise the rights of the Manipur tribals being fought since a long time back,” he said.
Throwing a long story shot, Saikot Assembly Constituency MLA, TN Haokip, said the tribals were not interested to be included under Manipur state at the time of Manipur becoming a full-fledged Statehood. But, the then chief minister, Koireng, ran from pillar to post to convince the tribal leaders. Autonomous District Council was borned out of it where the tribal leaders thought it was in their larger interest. However, as things stands today, it was not sincerely implemented in true spirit, he said.
Haokip also told that the then Congress regime of the centre under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi had called on the state leaders and requested for 6th schedule implementation for the Hill Areas. But, the then chief minister, O. Ibobi Singh persuaded the central leaders to give more power and function to the Autonomous District Councils and thereby amended ADC Act, devolving more departments to the District Councils; and therefore ADC election was held. However, that too became a total failure which can be seen now for almost 10 years again, he stated.
“Now, the time has come for us to swim together for our rights. We need to unite to get our own share so that our future generation would have the best economic-planning for progress and development in the hill areas,” TN Haokip added.