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Telangana: Beat officers asked to protect 1,000 hectares of forest land each or face music

There is a separate wing in the treasury office whose head's job is to chop salaries of forest department staffers in lieu of the trees that have been felled under the vigil.

Published: 31st August 2021 08:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2021 08:16 AM   |  A+A-

A forest department jeep patrols the Kuthirakuthi stretch on the Old Aluva-Munnar Road. The place got the name as a horse-drawn cart carrying a British officer was washed away in 1924 flood | Albin Ma

(Representational photo) A forest department jeep patrols the Kuthirakuthi stretch on the Old Aluva-Munnar Road.| Albin Ma

By Express News Service

KHAMMAM:  There is a separate wing in the treasury office whose head's job is to chop salaries of forest department staffers in lieu of the trees that have been felled under the vigil. Higher officials decide how much should be recovered from the salary based on the forest range officer's report. According to sources, each beat officer should protect about 1,000 hectares of forest area. If any forest wealth is missing, the beat officer is held responsible.

These beat officers have a simple question for their seniors: How could one beat officer protect 1,000 hectares of forest area all 24 hours? One officer points out that there used to be an assistant beat officer earlier and the two would patrol the given area. But, last year, the government removed the post of assistant beat officer. Even striking force teams, which used to patrol the forest at night, have been removed.

Forest department staff at the ground level face a threat from both tribals as well as the Maoists. Women staffers face greater safety issues as they have to move about alone in the forest. A beat officer working in the Bhadrachalam area says that it takes two days for her to cover her entire beat and as she has no arms, she is vulnerable to attacks.

According to the Forest Staff Association circle representative of erstwhile Khammam district K Praveen, the forest department staff in Cherla and Dummagudem mandals live on the edge as these areas are full of Maoists. Khammam District Forest Officer B Praveena says that in all cases of tree felling, beat officers should register cases and catch the culprits. In some cases, officers delay shifting the recovered material to depots. Only in such cases are pay cuts will be imposed, Praveena says.

THREATS APLENTY FOR GROUND-LEVEL STAFFERS
Forest department staffers at the ground level face a threat from both tribals as well as the Maoists. Women staffers face greater safety issues as they have to move about alone in the forest. A beat officer working in the Bhadrachalam area says that it takes two days for her to cover her entire beat and as she has no arms, she is vulnerable to attacks



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