Forest dept, KSPCB want staff exempted from poll duty

The forest department and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) have urged the Election Commission to exempt their staff from election duty, citing staff shortage.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Punati Sridhar said that they had already written to the Commission in this regard. "The EC has stated that the practice adopted during previous elections - sparing forest staff -   will be followed this time also. We have requested the district election officers to spare forest officials from election duty," he said.

KSPCB chairman Lakshman said the EC has drafted eight environmental officers in district centres for election duty. "They are crucial to ensure that environmental rules are not violated," Lakshman added.

Praveen Bhargav, former member, National Board for Wildlife, said forest officials and vehicles should not be used for election duty as they were crucial in protecting wildlife.

In 1998, the ECI ordered that vehicles and staff of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and national games parks will be exempted from election duties.

This decision of the EC was based on the fact that tigers and other endangered species were under serious threat from hunting by organised criminal networks. They had also noticed that during election time the department needs to carry out patrolling on a continuous basis and maintain anti-poaching camps in inaccessible areas.

Withdrawal of staff would weaken the already stretched protection infrastructure.

 

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