Sido-Kanhu Udyan on Kanke Road in Ranchi needs pruning and parenting. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The foster parent of neglected, orphaned parks in the state is still crawling in the dark.
Jharpark - an ambitious authority announced by the government in the 2015 budget and notified last year to revive 100-odd green lungs - is unlikely to have full manpower anytime before September.
After dragging its feet on the project for nearly two years, the state forest department had appointed IFS officer Deepak Singh as the full-time CEO of Jharpark three months ago, but 28 other posts - including that of two dozen field officers - remain vacant.
The newly appointed CEO conceded that the job of field officers was most important because it entailed maintenance of existing parks, making time-to-time estimates of the need to improve them and commissioning new parks wherever and whenever possible to buffer rampant urbanisation and balance ecology.
"After I joined, we slowly set up office at the forest headquarters in Doranda, Ranchi. Now, we are gearing up to appoint field officers. Since we don't have adequate manpower, we will have to bring people from other departments on deputation. If we start the hiring process today, we will need at least a couple of months to have full manpower to run the show," Singh said.
Incidentally, in the past two years, the only achievement of the forest department, which was tasked with the job to roll out Jharpark, has been to officially notify the outfit, appoint an additional principal chief conservator of forests-level officer as its nodal officer last year and allot funds to the tune of Rs 5.50 crore.
The money has been lying unused, but CEO Singh sounded bullish.
"Utilisation of funds will happen naturally once the establishment (of Jharpark) is completed. We are focusing on rolling out the project in a phased manner to prevent misuse of funds," he said, adding that once manpower and logistics were in place, they would begin formal transfer of maintenance of existing parks. "That may take a couple of months too."
There are more than 100 parks in the state owned by the forest department and municipal bodies, but barring a few, most are in bad shape owing to either paucity of funds or absence of a caretaker agency.
R.R. Hembrom, the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) who is also the head of force in the department, insisted that the recruitment process was rolling.
"Files for appointment of field officers have been sent for formal approval (of the chief minister who holds the forest portfolio).Rules and regulations have been formulated. Appointment should happen anytime now," Hembrom said.
When will Jharpark see the light of day?