Sensitive forest ranges still awaiting RFOs

Sensitive forest ranges still awaiting RFOs

NASHIK: In a shocking revelation, the post of Range Forest Officer’s at sensitive forest ranges like Nanashi, Yeola, Trimbakeshwar, Igatpuri, Harsul and other ranges are still vacant. There are a total of seven ranges in the Nashik forest department which are still vacant. The additional charge for these posts has been given to other RFO’s. Last week, the patrolling unit of the West Nashik forest department was attacked by a mob in Valsad. The mob pelted stones on patrolling van and tried to gheroed the officials.

The incident took place at Paachvira of Toakarpada village. The patrolling unit was on watch to nab the smugglers as per the tip-off they got from the sources. The forest range of Harsul, Trimbak, Nanashi and Surgana is considered to be highly vulnerable due to its large habitat of wildlife including most of the rare plants like Khair, Arjuna Sada, Behda, Moh, Teak.

However, for the last two and a half years, Harsul has not had a full-time officer, but now the Trimbak, Nanashi, Igatpuri, Yeola, Deola and Nandgaon will be vacant on June 30th after the retirement of the current RFO. The Harsul forest reserve has been waiting for an independent forest ranger for the last two and a half years.

All the forest areas in Nashik west forest division are close to the border of Gujarat state and the smuggling rate of wildlife including Teak wood is high in that area. Therefore, they are included in the list of most sensitive areas in Nashik Forest. Despite this, the forest area is deprived of full-time officers. This needs to be taken seriously by the regional forest department.

Eco sensitive zones

The forests of Trimbakeshwar forest reserve including Harsul, Peth, Nanashi, Surgana are moderately dense and sparsely endangered. The tribal areas are sensitive. These ranges have registered massive infiltration from the cross border. This rich forest is constantly being axed by smugglers from Gujarat. As a result, the Forest Department’s grip on the protection of rich forests is loosening to some extent. Superstition also threatens wildlife. Despite this, the number of patrols in this forest area is very low.

“We have conducted joint peace march and meet of Gujarat forest and Maharashtra Forest officials. Joint patrolling is conducted regularly. There are additional charges given for Harsul, Trimbakeshwar, Igatpuri and Nanashi Forest Range.” - Pankaj Garg, Dy Forest Conservator, Nashik West

“In East forest division there are currently two posts which are on additional charge one is Yeola and other is Deola. The Nandgaon range will get vacant soon after the retirement of the current RFO on June 30th.” - Tushar Chavan, Dy Conservator of Forest, Nashik East

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