Coming under attack from politicians and people alike, the Forest Department on Wednesday flagged several issues to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, with regard to illegal mining, rising man-animal conflict and delay in release of funds.
The chief minister held a meeting with the heads of the department, where officials from all the 13 circles were present, to understand various issues.
Forest Minister Aravind Limbavali said rampant illegal mining in the forest areas was been leading to high numbers of man-animal conflict and sought the chief minister’s intervention to put an end to mining in forest areas.
“Mining in forest areas should be stopped or permits should be given with strict conditions to ensure the wildlife is not disturbed,” he said.
Limbavali said that the delay in releasing the compensation for loss of crop or life had added to the problem.
“We are getting funds once in three months. We request prior sanction of funds which will not be used for any other purpose except for paying compensation. In some cases, the delay is causing emotional issues where villagers sit on a dharna with the body of the victims,” he said.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Vijaykumar Gogi briefed the meeting on the measures taken up by the department and the achievements made in forest and wildlife conservation over the last few years.
He raised the long-pending issue of the wage revision of frontier staff, who have been demanding a hike from the last three years. “We have raised the qualifications for hiring the deputy range forest officers. The minimum qualification was raised from pre-university certificate to degree. But the salary has remained the same,” he said.
Gogi said the department believes that erecting a railway barricade of 500 km can put an effective check on the elephant menace. The present barricade of 175 km has played a major role in controlling the number of elephant conflicts. “Till then, we are dependent on trenches and solar fences,” he said.
Limbavali, who spoke later, told the chief minister that he will take a delegation to New Delhi to request release of CAMPA (compensatory afforestation) funds for erecting railway barricades.