With the number of newly-recruited range forest officers (RFO) increasing in Karnataka, the department of forests has felt the need for a well-equipped training institute to train the RFOs.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and Head of Forest Forces (HoFF) Avani Kumar Varma has sent a proposal to the state government to establish a Range Forest Officers Training Academy at Gungargatti, off Dharwad, and the proposal is yet to be cleared by the state government.
The PCCF and HoFF has sent the proposal on July 22, 2012, to the Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, and all the state government needs to do is forward the proposal with favourable recommendation to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for further action and discuss the issue with Union Minister Jayanti Natarajan. The state government has to provide basic facilities and seed money to the tune of Rs 25 crore so that the Centre would provide matching grant and help establish the Academy.
People of the region have pinned their hopes on Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to clear the proposal during the tenure of the present government.
According to highly-placed sources at the Centre, it is keen on setting up the academy in Karnataka and it wants the academy to train RFOs from the neighbouring states of Maharastra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. As of now, there are only three training institutes in India — at Coimbatore in TN, Barnihath in Assam and Rajpipli in Gujarat — and all new recruits from Karnataka cannot be accommodated in these institutes at one go.
According to senior officers in the department of forests, the lack of training has hampered proper management of forests in the state. Dharwad is ideal place for the Institute as one will find all varieties of forests — from scrubs to evergreen — within a short distance of about 100 kms from Dharwad.
The state government has already invested lot of resources to establish the Forest Training Institute at Gingaragatti, 15 km from Dharwad where deputy
RFOs, guards and watch-ers are trained. The same can be upgraded and conv-erted into a RFOs Training Academy. A Varma pointed out that Dharwad was utili-sed under Bombay Presidency to train RFOs at Forest Rangers College at Dharwad in 1950s but following re-organisation of states it was discontinued.
There was no recruitment of RFOs in the state between 2000 and 2006 and the vacant posts were filled by promoting the deputy rangers. It has created certain anomaly in the cadre of RFO. After 2006 there have been recruitments but the newly-appointed officers are not trained.
Karnataka has 792 RFOs and in next five years 283 RFOs will retire. 50 per cent of the vacancies will be filled through direct recruitment.
Over 140 RFOs will have to be trained. If they are trained in Karnataka they will have a better understanding of the forests in the state and can manage them efficiently. If trained outside Karnataka they may not be familiar to the forest conditions of Karnataka.