In the backdrop of the reports by the Intelligence agencies on the possible presence of extremist elements in the forest areas, the state government has constituted three-tier Forest Area Vigilance Committees (Vanamekhala Jagratha Samithi). They are established at district, range and station/section levels.
According to the government order, officials from Police, Revenue, Forest and Tribal Development will be included in the committees at different levels. Forest officials said a total of 300 committees would be formed at station/section level.
At the range level, 100 committees and at the district level, 14 committees would be formed.
Besides government officials, the committees would also include members of environmental organisations and other NGOs working in forest areas.
Activities of these committees include informing the authorities of suspicious activities by conducting regular surveillance of the forest areas in coordination with the tribal people.
“Once functional, the committees would be able to bring the anti-social activities and the presence of extremists in the forest region to the notice of the concerned authorities and quick follow up action could be initiated,” said N V Trivedi Babu, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Eco-development and Tribal Welfare).
He also said that surveillance committees will come into effect in a month’s time. The decision to form vigilance committees was taken during the tenure of the previous LDF government after reports that adivasis are being used by the extremist forces as a shield for their activities in the state.
Earlier, after reports that forests in Kerala are becoming a safe haven for extremist elements including for the banned Communist Party of India (Maoists), police forces and Forest officials conducted joint search operations in the forestry tracts of Nilambur in the month of May.