'Top-heavy' forest dept wants more ground-level staff

Seeks repatriation of 32 senior officials on deputation

The Forest department, which has been accused of being top-heavy, has sought permission from the State government to recruit more staff at the ground level.

The proposal has been put forth in the wake of the increasing number of tiger and leopard deaths and poaching cases in the State’s forests.

Karnataka is home to the highest tiger and elephant population in India.

Last month, the department had placed a proposal before the government that they needed additional ground staff strength of 4,500 personnel, which includes 3,000 forest guards, 500 to 600 deputy range forest officers, 50 to 60 range forest officers and 1,000 forest watchers.

Sharing details, an official told Deccan Herald that in the last two meetings, Forest Minister Ramanath Rai repeatedly pointed out that the department was top-heavy and should be pruned. It was said that there are four principal chief conservators of forests (PCCFs) and 46 additional PCCFs, posts which are not required.
But the officials countered stating that there are only 145 IFS officers compared to 280

IAS officers. In Karnataka, the total forest staff strength is around 11,000, of which 32 senior officials (of chief conservator of forest ranking) are on deputation to other different government offices like Keonics, Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, Zilla Panchayats and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation. Thus, there is a need for more staff and to get back the ones who are on deputation.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests G V Sugur said, “Apart from the ongoing recruitment of 4,000 guards, we asked for hiring more staff. This is needed for better protection and better monitoring.

We want to increase the range of coverage too. Clearance from the Finance department is required before the proposal gets the final nod. The minister too has agreed to the proposal. The aim is to increase the staff strength in all forest areas, especially in border areas and places where smuggling cases are high.”

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