Hyderabad: The State government injected a fresh lease of life into the Forest Department in the New Year. This year, all vacancies in the Forest Department will be filled up, giving a much-needed impetus to its activities in Telangana State.
The Forest Department has long been functioning with only half its required workforce, with about 50 per cent posts remaining vacant. The long-pending issue will finally be resolved, as Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has given official nod for recruitment of all vacancies in the Department.
“We have been struggling to carry out conservation and maintenance operations for several years now. This year, however, we will have required manpower to carry out our regular operations in addition to launching new initiatives and increase vigilance,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) PK Jha told Telangana Today.
According to officials, more than 2,000 vacancies are set to be filled over the next couple of months, making the Department 100 per cent equipped in terms of manpower. Among the vacancies to be filled are 1,857 Forest Beat Officers, 90 Forest Section Officers and 67 Forest Range Officers.
Looking at figures from the last 10 years, the State Forest Department has witnessed a downfall in the incidents of poaching within its forest areas.
Dr Manoranjan Bhanja, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests for Wildlife (PCCF-WL), explained that the incidents of poaching in TS range of forests are largely restricted to cultural traditions and domestic consumption.
“We cannot say that there is no poaching for trade, but relatively, the majority of incidents are by local residents who are in the habit of hunting wild animals as part of their cultural traditions,” said Bhanja.
Vigilance to go up
With twice as many officers to be on the field soon, the Telangana Forest Department plans to increase vigilance efforts to reduce instances of land encroachment and smuggling. Currently, there are about 148 Base Camps, 62 Strike Force units, and 57 check posts under the Department.
“Only a few of these were added in the last one or two years. Over the next two months, we plan to fill up all vacancies. This will help us intensify our vigilance, with additional Base Camps and Strike Force units. It is not desirable to increase check posts because they are not as efficient,” said Jha.