Consultative meeting reaches ‘consensus’ on ULB polls, FCA

Advisor, Kropol Vitsu; Minister, KG Kenye; and Principal Secretary, Home, Abhijit Sinha during a press conference after the consultative meeting in Kohima on September 1. (Morung Photo)

Advisor, Kropol Vitsu; Minister, KG Kenye; and Principal Secretary, Home, Abhijit Sinha during a press conference after the consultative meeting in Kohima on September 1. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | September 1

The consultative meeting held today to deliberate on the contentious issues of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act (FCA) and Uniform Civil Code (UCC) has been described as ‘very conclusive’ and has reached a ‘consensus.’

Addressing media persons, Minister for Power and Parliamentary Affair, KG Kenye said that the meeting reached a consensus on the three subjects; and that the State Government is moving ahead and preparing for the Assembly Session on September 11, where necessary formalities will be processed and made official.

Advocate General of the State, KN Balgopal has extensively dwelt on these three subjects from the legal point of view and the constitutional perspective of where the state stands, he informed.

“It was a meeting which has cleared the fog which was looking over us on both sides with the State Government as well as the response and stand of our tribal hohos,” said Kenye.

UCC, FCA not acceptable 
Against the backdrop of opposition to the contentious bill of Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Kenye said the State Government had also made a representation to the 22nd Law Commission stressing on Nagaland’s socio political background and the special provisions under Article 371 (A).

He said the State Government has made it very clear that “this is not acceptable for us” and likewise, “today the people present have endorsed the stand, and wished that this should be passed as a resolution in the coming state assembly.”

On the FCA, Kenye asserted that the latest Forest Amendment Act 2023 is an approach which cannot be accepted by “us” and validating his view said ownership of land and land resources belong to the people of Nagaland. “As it is, 95% of our forest belongs to individuals and communities. The State Government, as such has hardly 5% of forest to its credit,” he said. 

Kenye added that the latest amendment Act is contrary to the spirit of conservation and preservation.

“The will of the people stands out. The extensional 100 KMs from the international borders into our state will not be accepted,” informed Kenye on the consensus agreement out of today’s meeting. To this end, he informed that the state will take a decision in the coming state assembly session and pass a resolution to this effect.

Principal Secretary, Home, Abhijit Sinha also stated that the Government of Nagaland through a notification in 1986 has mandated the provision of Conservation Act 1980 only on government reserved forests, and such other forest and wildlife sanctuaries under the control of the State Government. He clarified that it is applicable only to government reserved forest and this was never applicable to private and community owned forest, and remained outside the purview of FCA.

Sinha also made clear that the State Government never applied for FCA provision for private and community owned lands, adding “for us, it has been clear that FCA is not applicable, and we have been maintaining that position, and we have never modified the 1986 notification.”

He further stated that the present amendment also is only for government reserved areas, and maintained that “there was nothing like the Central Government forcing and asking us to do that. For Nagaland, we have continued our position and it is not applicable to us, and we have been maintaining this position.”  

33% reservation for women accepted
On the protracted 33% reservation for women on ULB elections, Kenye said it was extensively deliberated and that it has been ‘more or less accepted’ by one and all.

However, other areas like exclusion, omission and deletion of certain words like tax which does not go down well with the people will be rectified and presented in a different way, he informed.

While the State Government has repealed the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 on March 28 to come up with a new Act, Kenye said the draft proposal couldn’t be presented in the meeting today as it is under preparation and under review.

The draft proposal, he informed will further undergo scrutiny of the panel and Cabinet, and further consultations will be done before the State Assembly when the final draft is completed, and will be brought in the Assembly to enact as a law.

When enquired Kenye said that the ENPO issue was not discussed in today’s meeting, but was brought up on the sidelines. He said concerns were raised on whether the government could be more transparent about the progress of the deliberation going on. He stated that the government will take it up with the civil society and tribal hohos as and when the right time comes.

Meanwhile, Advisor for Prison, Printing & Stationery Kropol Vitsu has today’s meeting as ‘very conclusive’ adding that all the confusions and controversies surrounding the three issues have been ‘apparently resolved.’