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200sqkm forests, 2 guards
- Staff crunch in Dhanbad

Dhanbad, July 17: Large swathes of greenery spread over 200sqkm in 470 villages of Dhanbad district lie unprotected and uncared for, thanks to lack of adequate number of forest guards.

The Dhanbad forest division comprising three ranges — Tundi, Topchanchi and Dhanbad — is making do with only two forest guards whereas the sanctioned strength is 51 even though the actual requirement is much higher.

What’s more, both the guards — Jitu Mahata and Ramu Paswan — are aged above 50 years and not fit for ground duty. They have been posted at nurseries at Amaghata in Dhanbad and Tundi, respectively. This means that the 200sqkm forest stretch lies exposed to animal poaching, felling of trees and other illegal activities.

Officials said forest guards have not been appointed for over three decades even as the existing staff continued to be promoted to senior posts and retired. “When Dhanbad division was created way back in 1956, 51 posts of forest guards were sanctioned. But we require at least 256 forest guards now. This is because each of the 256 panchayats of the district requires at least one forest guard,” said a senior official in the district forest department.

Agreed district forest officer (DFO) Satish Chandra Rai.

“Forest guards are our real soldiers as they conduct field visits, inspect our assets and report about encroachment of forest land by private or public party and other illegal activities. They also lodge cases in the court against any violation of the forest act in their respective area. The DFO only submits the final chargesheet,” he added.

Sources in the state forest headquarters in Ranchi said the state government was expected to recruit over 3,000 forest guards with the Cabinet approving the Jharkhand Forest Guard Recruitment Rules last week.

The Staff Selection Commission (SSC) will be conducting the recruitment.

“Only after we receive the file, we can send the requisition for recruitment to the SSC,” said a top forest official.


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