Staff shortage hurdle to protect forest wealth

SHILLONG: Shortage of forest staff is a hurdle in checking theft of forest wealth in the state. A senior forest department official said that there are 187 vacancies in the forest department.

The existing vacancy of forest rangers is 22 and that of forester grade I is 52 while there is a vacancy of 113 forest guards. The forest department admitted that felling of trees is rampant in Garo Hills but added that the state government has no control over the matter since the area falls under GHADC. “We can seize timbers which are on transit, national and state highways and village roads but we have no jurisdiction in the sixth schedule areas”, the official said.

The official also said felling is not taking place in reserve forest and illegal felling is banned by the Supreme Court. The forest department said those who want to fell trees legally should note that it is allowed in non forest areas and there is a working scheme but the GHADC has not come up with the plan in this regard.

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