Mizo teak planters long to reap ''fruits of labour''

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Aizawl, Oct 18 (UNI) Teak planters under the Tut-Langkaih Reserved Forest today vowed that they would employ any means to sell their ''fruits of labour'' at their own disposal.

''As the authorities have turned a blind eye to our peaceful agitation, we will now employ any means to sell our fruits of labour at our own disposal,'' Lalvenhima Ralte, chairman of the Teak Planters' Association, said.

The private teak planters have accused the state's Environment and Forest department of preventing them from selling teak on the pretext of the Forest Working Plan.

As per the Supreme Court's (Working Plan) order, the state Forest and Environment department had demanded that the teak planters must accept that the lands on which the plantations had been raised are government's reserved forest to be issued permit for felling and selling the teak.

However, the teak planters insisted that the Supreme Court had authorised the state government regarding regulation of the plantations, quoting the order that stated, ''Plantations raised on private and community land holdings shall be regulated under respective state rules and regulations.'' The teak planters also quoted directives of high power committee for Northeastern region as stating that, ''Felling of trees plantation origin raised by the individual in the state in the past, under the supervision and in consonance with the rules and regulations of the department, and their disposal outside the state may be allowed.'' According to the working plan, which was allegedly as per the SC order, all operations of timber should be done departmentally, including marking, felling, logging and transportation.

In order to carry out that operation, the department and the planters should deposit 5-10 per cent of the market value of the timber, as an administrative charge, the actual percentage of which may be decided between the two parties.

It also demands that the land holders must submit their land passes to the forest department which is unacceptable to the landowners for that would mean surrendering their lands inherited from their ancestors.

While demanding revocation of the Tut-Langkai Forest Area that covers an approximate area of 500 sq m under Kawrthah forest division and amendment of the Mizoram (Forest) Act, 1955, the teak planters also demanded for application of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Dwellers Act passed by the Lok Sabha in 2006.


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