Imphal: Forest, Environment and Climate Change Minister Th Biswajit Singh has distributed arms to the field staff of the Forest Department on Tuesday.
The Forest Department recently procured 40 Pump Action Rifles and 60 Double Barrel guns to equip the field staff of the Forest Department to meet the challenges coming in the way of protection and management of forests.
In this regard, 49 Forest Guards and Foresters have been trained in arms handling and operation at Manipur Police Training College, Pangei.
The government is in the process of conducting arms training of more forest field staff at the MPTC, Pangei in batches. After the review, the department may also consider the proposal of procuring more such arms, a Forest official said.
Divisional Forest Officers of Central Forest Division, Kangpokpi Forest Division, Churachandpur Forest Division, Thoubal Forest Division, Bishnupur Forest Division and Chandel Forest Division and Dy. CF, Parks and Sanctuary received the arms from the Minister.
Minister Biswajit highlighted the commitment of the government under the leadership of Chief Minister N Biren to strengthen protection measures of the Forest Department.
He noted that in the absence of arms protection, the field staffs were prone to demoralisation in the face of threats in the field.
These arms would help make the frontline staff more confident and better equipped in discharging their duties, he added.
Forest Divisions are key instruments of enforcement of forest and wildlife laws and deal with the varied issues like illegal timber transit, illegal mining and quarrying, illegal saw mills, hunting, etc. Such steps will go a long way in not only strengthening the forest force but also boosting their morale, the Minister said.
It may be noted that the State Government has started consolidation of all Reserved Forests and Protected Forests and addressing the issue of illegal encroachment on forest lands.