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Guess what’s headless & going wild
- Forest department’s top chair empty, evidence of jungle raj everywhere

Ranchi, June 11: Governance in state forest department is lost in wilderness as no principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) has been appointed once A.K. Malhotra retired from the post on May 31.

Headless from June 1, the forest department is clueless on administrative matters in the vital run-up to monsoon, the most crucial season for afforestation, infrastructure and monitoring projects across the state.

The PCCF acts as a crucial link between the forest department and state government. Now, with the top post being vacant, no plan or project has been sent to the government for approval so far this month.

“Funds under CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) are lying unused as only the PCCF can approve related plans,” a department official, not wishing to be named, said.

Also, monitoring and field visits have gone for a toss.

“When you know there is no boss, you tend to work according to your whims and fancies. Mandatory everyday jobs are not being done. Office discipline is out, chaos is in,” said another official.

Among employees, murmurs have already started on who would initiate transfers and promotions.

“Only the PCCF can start these,” said the official. “Most important, mass recruitment of forest guards, which started gaining pace around last month, has completely fallen apart,” he added.

Why no replacement for this crucial post was finalised before Malhotra’s retirement is a mystery.

Forest secretary Alka Tiwari didn’t respond to calls from The Telegraph. A well-placed source, however, claimed current chief wildlife warden D.K. Srivastava’s name had been cleared on seniority basis as the PCCF at departmental promotion meetings but a formal notification from the chief minister’s office (CMO) was pending.

A senior official with the CMO reasoned the delay occurred as a cumulative effect.

“In the past three weeks, chief minister Hemant Soren had first been away on personal leave, then became busy in review meetings and is now in New Delhi. The PCCF file can be cleared only after his return,” he said.

Wildlife enthusiast D.S. Srivastava, part of many central panels, dubbed the delay as an instance of the state’s casual approach to forests. “Jungle vibhag mein jungle raaj. (Law of the jungle in forest department),” he wisecracked. “Our government has always done too little in this area.”

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