Sensitive ranges still awaiting RFOs

Sensitive ranges still awaiting RFOs

NASHIK: Sensitive forest areas like Harsul Surgana and Umbarthan in Nashik Forest Circle are still waiting for full-time Range Forest Officers. The post of Range Forest Officers of these forest areas is vacant and their management is given as an additional charge to other officials who are handling their forest ranges.

Smugglers are getting free run due to a lack of full time officers. Therefore, there is a big question of conservation and protection of forest resources in this sensitive area.

In North Maharashtra, large-scale forest smuggling takes place in Peth, Harsul, Umbarthan, Surgana, Nandurbar on the Gujarat border, and Jalgaon on the Madhya Pradesh border.

This smuggler is especially keen on teak and khaira wood. In Gujarat, Khaira timber is smuggled in large quantities to make ‘Katha’. After the end of the monsoon or before Diwali, the demand for teak wood for making furniture, decorative, and other materials increases. From there, the greens are smuggled to other states. Harsul, Trimbakeshwar, Nanashi, and Surgana have a large number of forest resources and flourishing wildlife with a good number of species.

Trees like Khair, Arjun, Sada, Behda, Moh, Teak are found in this area. However, Harsul has been missing a full-time officer for the past three years. In addition, Umbarthan and Surgana villages have been added to this list. Officers in charge have been appointed for these three ranges. Therefore, concrete measures to curb smuggling are being limited.

Meanwhile, a few days back, the Forest Department was attacked by a mob in Balsad, a patrolling unit of the West Nashik Forest Department. The mob pelted stones at the patrolling van and tried to overpower the officers. Therefore, there is an atmosphere of fear among the officials and employees. Employees deployed at the blockade site as well as those who went for action have no weapons and are endangering their lives.

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