60% of frontline forest dept posts are vacant, says PCCF

60% of frontline forest dept posts are vacant, says PCCF

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) B J Hosmath on Wednesday said that over 60% of frontline posts in the department are lying vacan­t.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of a 24-unit forest quarters in Malleswaram on Wednesday, Hosmath said that it was difficult for the department to tackle forest fires efficiently in the absence of adequate staff.

He said that though new recruits must mandatorily spend at least five years in tiger reserves, soon after this term, the staffers start seeking transfers out of forests.

At least Rs 500 crore is required to set up group housing and other facilities around reserves so that the staff and their families stay and continue to work there.

Forest, Environment and Ecology Minister Ramanath Rai said the Bandipur forest fire in which over 750 acres were gutted, was an “eye opener.” There is a need for serious thought about the conditions under which the forest staff live and work.

“The forest watchers submitted me a memorandum on Tuesday when I visited BTR, demanding that their remuneration be on a par with that of police personnel. They also demanded that their beats be covered with sufficient staff. We will ensure that all their demands are met,” he said.

The minister added that over 2,000 personnel were being hired across all levels. The department is also planning to hold a workshop on dealing with forest fires.  On the occasion, tributes were paid to forest guard Murigeppa Thammagol (32) who died in the forest fire at Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Rai announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the family of Thammagol.

 He also announced that a government job will be given to Thammagol’s wife. The Karnataka State Forest Industries Corporation Limited too announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh.

The minister maintained that the decision of declaring Kappatagudda a conservation reserve was a very sensitive topic (just like declaring Kudremukh a tiger reserve). He said that over 2,000 families will have to be shifted out of the forest patch once the status changes, from the existing reserve forest. Presently, it is a reserve forest and the protection is the same, he asserted.

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