Apr 30, 2015
PILIBHIT: The social forestry division of Pilibhit, which must administer 3499km sq of forest area, is faced with an acute shortage of personnel in the field. It has just 13 forest guards against the sanctioned 27 to ensure no trees are illegally cut in the area, which also includes a sizeable portion of a reserve forest. The manpower crunch was compounded after a tigress and its two mature cubs strayed from the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, which is some 25km away, in 2012. There have been several reported incidents of the tigers attacking people in sugarcane fields, where the big cats have taken refuge since they strayed. The social forestry division of Pilibhit is ill-equipped do deal with the situation as it does not have tranquilizers nor trained personnel. They fear that the big cats may be killed by some of the sugarcane farmers who possess firearms. The division has also not received any help from the forest department and officials of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in its efforts to relocate the big cats. The Pilibhit social forestry division has not recruited a single forest guard since 1985. Division director of social forestry Adarsh Kumar told TOI: “The social forestry division in Pilibhit was separated from the forest department in 1994. Before that it functioned as the south forest division. The division has three ranges, Pilibhit, Puranpur and Bisalpur, of which Puranpur was the most extensive which stretched across the Sharda region along Nepal border. The social forest division also has 941hectares of reserve forest under its jurisdiction.” He added that they had recruited 15 forest guards but then two persons were in such poor physical condition that they were shifted to the office.
Kumar that 27 forest guards were sanctioned in 1994 in compliance with Uttar Pradesh Tree Protection Act. But, there has been no review of the situation and no new recruitments to the division. The social forest division also faces the challenge of the stray tigers. They have to trap the big cats of tranquilize them before they can be relocated to the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. However, the 13 forest guards are not trained to capture the tigers. Wildlife Biodiversity Conservation Society vice-president Amitabh Agnihotri said: “Equipping the forest guards with fire arms would be futile. They are not trained to use guns.” The divisional director has said that he would need at least 45 forest guards, 15 in each range, to manage the entire area. But, this overhaul would need a revision in the sanctioned number, which too has not been met. He added that they would also require four wheelers and bikes to patrol the entire area.
As posted in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com