IMPHAL: Forest, Environment and Climate Change Minister Awangbow Newmai today flagged off Manipur Van Dhan Naturals to Tribes India Outlets through TRIFED Regional offices at Guwahati and Delhi. He also launched Nature Learning Centre (NLC) website under National Mission on Himalayan Studies, inspected the museum and Interpretation Centre at NLC and later met senior forests officers at the Mantipukhri Forest Complex.
Following brief introduction, the Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) addressed their grievances to the Minister and senior officers. They informed that most of the offices in the districts were facing staff shortage, lack of infrastructure, no marked land for divisional offices, no quarter for DFOs, encroachment issue, frequent transfer and posting, no patrolling vehicle especially in the border area, need for arms for the field staff, need for legal advisor due to various court cases in the higher court as well as in lower court among other issues.
While addressing the officers, Minister Awangbow Newmai said the entire exercise and activities of the department are all about protecting the nature for healthy environment and for ecological balance. Apart from it, the department also helps the Government under permissible rules to bring revenues which is why various assignments and tasks are assigned to different officers of the department, he added.
Regarding the issues addressed by the DFOs, he said by sharing the problems the DFOs have shown that they have been working seriously, carrying out their respective assignments diligently. He said he is proud to learn that the Manipur Forest Department is ahead in many areas in comparison to their counter parts in neighbouring states.
He also stated that he is proud to see many young officers who have great vision and caliber to serve the people of the State. Staffs and officers from the lowest rank to the highest rank have big responsibility to contribute to the department and if the staff is dedicated and determined person than the department will surely progress, he added.
Additional Chief Secretary MH Khan (Forest and Environment) informed the officers that he will accompany the Forest Minister and inspect each divisional forest offices in order to take stock of the situation and address to the grievances faced by the staff of the respective offices. He opined that there should be strong synergy between all levels of the staff and officers within the department.
He also suggested that there is a need for permanent building or complex of the Forest Office across the different divisions in the State. In addition to the legal advisor at Secretariat who is dealing with court cases of the department, he suggested that two legal advisors (one for hills and one for valley) can be hired to deal with the court cases in the districts which can be collaborated with the DFOs.
MH Khan further suggested for providing computers/tablets in all the offices to access the online portal. Stating that supervision and monitoring in various forest areas is important, he said some vehicles should be provided which can be used for surveillance.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force (PCCF and HoFF) Kereilhouvi Angami informed that for initial phase a proposal has been sent to provide arms to 100 field staffs. He informed that to ease the financial constraint it is also suggested to procure old guns from the State Police Department as they are on modernizing their weapons.
He said after looking at the financial constraints of some of the staffs, the department has submitted a proposal that the Forest staff starting from the post of Forest Guard to Deputy Range Officers should be given 13 months pay and ration money as they are doing all round field duty. He also said the department has proposal to procure additional vehicles (4X4) and strengthen the strength of the staff.