Even as their counterparts in Chittoor district have begun to undergo training in the use of firearms, the forest staff in Adilabad district are eagerly waiting to be trained in use of weapons as this district has been witnessing rampant teak wood smuggling. So far, the state government has not yet issued orders for training Adilabad district forest personnel.
The government had decided to provide weapons and train all the forest department staff in the wake of killing of two forest officials by red sanders smugglers in Tirupati recently.
Adilabad district for long has been witnessing rampant teak wood smuggling. Like red sanders smugglers in the forests of Seshachalam Hills and nearby regions, the teak wood smugglers in the forests of Adilabad district are also known to be a violent lot and often attack the forest patrol parties, when they come across their smuggling routes.
There were two incidents of forest personnel being killed by the hardcore timber smugglers of Adilabad, which for some time created a fear among the forest staff, given their vulnerability due to lack of any weapons for self defence.
According to forest officials, between April 2008 and August 2013, Rs 39.27 crore worth teak wood was axed and smuggled out of Adilabad. The cases booked during the period were 14,655, but the arrests of the smugglers were minimal. “We have not yet received any orders with regard to training of forest personnel in firearms with police department,’’ Adilabad district conservator of forests Thimma Reddy said. The forest personnel are generally provided basic weapon training as part of their overall training before their induction into the department. In the past, the forest personnel used to carry firearms including .303 rifles and muskets, but the threat of Naxalites in the state had forced the government to prohibit the forest personnel from carrying weapons.
The forest department had deposited the weapons with police department. According to sources, there were some 47 firearms with the forest department in Adilabad district. Officials are now contemplating to inspect the weapons deposited with the police department.