Khamasom villagers rewarded for safeguarding virgin forest

UKHRUL, 27th Oct: Forest and environment minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar rewarded the villagers of Khamasom village, in Ukhrul district for protecting the only virgin forest in the state situated along the Indo-Myanmar international border.
The minister handed over a sum of Rs 2 lakh from forest department to Khamasom villagers for their sincerity and commitment towards protecting the environment.
On his maiden visit on Friday, Shyamkumar inspected Khamasom village and its surrounding areas, which is situated near the international Border Pillar No 24. The minister expressed astonishment and happiness towards the villagers for carefully safeguarding the virgin forest.
The village is located at a distance of around 40 kms from Ukhrul district headquarters.
It is informed that Shyamkumar's visit is the first by a minister after a gap of 40 years. Late Yangmasho Shaiza, the then chief minister of the state, visited the village in 1978.
Addressing media persons at the border village, Shyamkumar said that state forest department is happy that the villagers of Khamasom have carefully safeguarded the only remaining parts of the virgin forest in the state at a time when the department is working hard to combat deforestation and global warming.
Stating that chief minister N Biren Singh has been instructing cabinet ministers to visit remote places and address the grievances of the people, Shyamkumar reminded that the present government is committed to keep close contact with the people residing in the interior areas so that new policies and developmental programmes can be implemented.
Shyamkumar further assured Khamasom villagers that eligible villagers will be given benefits under various schemes/programmes of the government.
Concerned over the remoteness of the village, the minister also gave his direct contact number to the villagers to update him regarding the problems and other queries so that they do not have to travel long distance to reach Imphal. He also informed Khamasom villagers that forest department knew about the virgin forest through satellite image and made a surprise visit to the village after attending the Ukhrul Flower Festival. It is the duty of the department to promote and support villagers who are working tirelessly with sincere effort to protect the forest which have remained untouched for years, he said and appreciated officials of state government including officials of forest department to work with sincerity in the area.
Assuring Khamasom villagers that he will apprise the chief minister and the works minister regarding poor codition of roads, Shyamkumar said that the present state government does not believe in working on the table but has firm policy to have close connection with the people. He also promised to visit the village again before the Christmas festival.
Meanwhile, Yang Academy, Khamasom headmaster Rio informed DIPR that the maiden visit of the forest and environment minister is a historic day for the village and the surrounding areas. Rio said that he was surprised when the minister came without giving any prior information.
He informed that the Khamasom has over 400 households consisting of Khamasom Khayangkho, Khamasom Walely, Khamasom Phungdhar and Khamasom Phungrei. The village is home to the people of Tangkhul tribe with agriculture as the primary occupation. The village is known for its scenic beauty with a vast thick virgin forest stretching up to the international boundary with Myanmar which is rich in flora and fauna. He also urged the state government to look into the issues of the villagers.
Earlier on the way to Khamason village, Th Shyamkumar was given a rousing welcome by the students of Yang Academy High School, Khamasom. The minister welcomed the students to Imphal and promised them to make all necessary arrangements if they desire to visit the state capital.

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