Aug 28, 2014
PILIBHIT: The forest department is struggling to carry out all its duties in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve as it is facing a severe staff shortage. The situation worsened after July 30, when the Uttar Pradesh administration suspended 23 forest employees, including the DFO, SDO, three forest range officers, two deputy range officers and five foresters of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve for allegedly illegally felling trees in the tiger reserve area. The move to suspend the officials had come at the end of an official enquiry. Illegal fellers are reportedly making use of the paucity of staff to cut trees with impunity. The Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is spread out over 73024.98 hectares, out of which the area of 60269.80 hectare have been earmarked as core area, while the remaining part is the buffer area.
This is one of the finest areas of the reserve having rich bio-diversity and a considerable wildlife population, including 35 tigers, leopards, swamp deer, hispid hare and stags. However, it is becoming difficult for the forest department to ensure the security of the tiger reserve area due to the shortage of staff. As per the description given by the DFO, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Kailash Prakash, presently there are only 27 forest guards, 31 foresters, two range officers and one SDO posted at the reserve as compared to the sanctioned posts of 60 forest guards, 50 foresters, six range officers and three SDOs. The state administration has also fallen short in terms of providing adequate infrastructure to this tiger reserve like trained staff, additional quantity of arms and ammunition, sufficient numbers of motorized vehicles and means of effective communication.
With news of the sizeable presence of 35 tigers in the area spreading, the area has become vulnerable to poachers from India, as well as Nepal, said a forest official. Not just poachers, but even illegal tree fellers are having a free run in the absence of forest department staff to patrol and check such activities.The illegal felling is growing extensive day by day in all the five forest range areas of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. A forest department official, on the condition of anonymity, also claimed that some employees were involved in a nexus with the illegal tree fellers, making the situation worse. Immediate hiring of employees against the sanctioned posts as well as urgent steps by the state administration to equip the staff with proper gear is of urgent need, he said.
As posted in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com