Ranchi, July 13: The Hemant Soren government has cleared the deck for regular appointment to the posts of foresters and forest guards, kindling hopes for thousands of contractual workers who have been seeking regularisation of their services for decades.
Around 4,000 contractual workers engaged with the forest department for the past two-and-a-half decades will be given preference in the recruitment process, which is set to begin within a week or so.
According to sources, against a sanctioned strength of 3,553, only 800 forest guards have regular job. Similarly, around 400 full-time foresters are there in the state as against the 1,064 approved posts.
Moreover, most of those serving foresters and forest guards are steadily approaching their retirement age. “On an average, three-four files related to retirement of foresters and forest guards are being disposed of at the forest directorate everyday,” said a senior official.
As such, the “real” affairs of the forest department are largely being managed by the contractual workers. These workers had been demanding regularisation of their services for long. They hit the protest path several times till Hemant, during his Republic Day speech this year, promised to look into their demands. Though it took him another six months to complete the necessary formalities, the state government’s move has brought cheers to thousands of faces.
“All hurdles in the way of regular appointments have been removed. The state cabinet passed a proposal in this regard last Thursday. Now, no one can say that my government has been making false promises. We are trying to solve all those issues that remained neglected for all these years,” Hemant told The Telegraph this forenoon, before heading for a public function organised to celebrate the completion of his government’s one year in office.
On giving preference to the contractual workers while making new appointments, the chief minister said, “We don’t want to do anything that results in another long-drawn legal battle. So far, most of the job appointments made by the state government have been challenged in the court law. The contractual workers who have the basic qualification needed for a particular post will be given preference.”
Replying to a question, Hemant said he was not in a mood to comment on frivolous allegations levelled by his foes. “My government never succumbed to pressure tactics. I didn’t hesitate showing doors to some of my defiant ministerial colleagues (Chandra Shekhar Dubey of Congress and Simon Hembrom of JMM),” he claimed.
Politically, a considerable significance is being attached to the move and the JMM, which claims to have been fighting for jal, jungle aur jameen (land, water and forests), will definitely try to cash in on it in the coming Assembly elections.
like that his government has been doing nothing in state interests and that he was playing puppets in the hands of his political allies to somehow save his government.