BANGALORE: “There will be a conference in line with the High Court directive to arrive at a solution with regard to elephant translocation. Forest Minister C P Yogeshwar and other prominent officials will participate in the conference to be held on January 21,” said A K Varma, who took charge as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Head of Forest Force on Tuesday.
The Forest Department had introduced an e-permit system to tackle the menace of illegal mining in the state. “Checking gates will be linked to weighing bridges soon,” he said.
Varma, a 1974 batch Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer had earlier served as principal chief conservator of Forests in 2007-2008, and will now serve a one-year tenure and will retire in 2013. In a press conference at Aranya Bhavan he stated that the Forest Department had recruited 600 guards.
Highlighting other initiatives of the Forest department, Varma said that 150 rugged, shock-proof Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) have been provided to forest staff which will enable them to monitor boundaries, give access to email and assist with other enforcement issues.“Each PDA costs around Rs 35,000. In addition to this, we have also acquired 200 computers for field staff,” he said.
The Department plans to procure 20 Bolero vehicles for Range Forest Officers and 100 bikes for foresters with a budget of Rs 1.5 crore, Varma mentioned.
Discussing the various schemes of the Department, he said that a Sandalwood forest was ready for inauguration at Shettyhalli and would be inaugurated somewhere in the first week of February. He also said that the Department has asked for Rs 5 crore from the government in next year’s budget towards the ‘Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane’.
On the issue of roadside plantation, Varma said that there was an intensive review carried out by him on the topic and reiterated that all plantation under the scheme would be made with consultation with local PWD officials and that they would be kept far away from the median of the road. “We will choose roads which do not have any widening plans for the next 20 years for the scheme,” he said.