By: Hilal Lone
We are deeply impressed by your majesty, generosity, kindness and Justice. It is our best fortune that we have got such a good Lt Governor to govern our UT. We know, lakhs of issues of J&K reached you and lakhs of them have been resolved with good justice. Now, it is our humble request to you to give kind attention to this letter. So, that our issues may reach you and you may thoroughly understand our pains and injustices with forest officers (Forest territorial frontline forces).
Forest Officers are posted in remote and inaccessible areas, where patrolling through dense forest cover is their routine task. Forests are already Homes of diverse wild animals like Bears, Tigers, Lions etc etc… Which has made this job toughest, hardest and too much risky in nature. Duties of Forest officers is daily patrolling of the forests to detect forest offences. During patrolling of forests, forest officers daily pass through dense forest covers were the habitats of these wild animals is possible. Patrolling through dense forest covers and wildlife habitats is risky. In J&K UT wild animal attack cases rise day by day. Empathetically, you can understand, this is the toughest and most risky job ,as wild animals don’t have mercy towards mankind and their wilderness.
Our forests are high and deep. Patrolling through ridges and steep areas needs care, strength and courage. If any forest officer slipped during patrolling, without God!…no one can save his life. There is a possibility his body may get broken into pieces, If anybody falls or rolls down from a high and steep area. Lets understand an example, In 2019 AD a forest officer died due to slipping and rolling down from a ridge into a deep gorge and died on the spot. Before, several such incidents happened. Please understand our hardships, risk and essential nature of our duties and responsibilities.
Whenever, forest fires turn into wildfires, as a result of it rotten and deteriorated trees fall and many times, it has been seen forest officers dousing fires and these trees falling due to forest fires rolled down towards forest officers. In those situations, those forest officers could miserably save their lives. Many were injured and many died. No compensation has been given or is being given to them. No risk allowances for forest officers have been given. As forest fires, illicit damages by smugglers, encroachments are mostly probably in the absence. Night hours and holidays are chances for offenders. In this way, forest officers remain alert during days and nights and also on holidays and festivals. It is due to this essential nature that Job forest officers remain cut from social and family life. Still no risk allowances, 2&1/2 Extra allowances are given despite having risky jobs and 24 hours duty. On the other hand, some services , which don’t have 24 hours duties and risks like forest services, are given all these benefits.
Timber smugglers are always equipped with sharp tools to carry out offences. Two to three forest officers without any arms and ammunition tactfully deal with them and book them in FIRs. Duties of Forest officers end with the completion of final judicial judgements. This nature indicates its risk and nature by dealing with wild character offenders. If a forest officer may patrol one area and at the same time forest offence might have been caused on the other side of the jurisdiction. In those circumstances, forest officers are called for responsibilities, failing which may result in compensation of loss from his hard earned salary. This worrisome and overburdened work culture has depressed forest officers and has resulted in their dissatisfaction at their work place and dissatisfaction due to unjust wage policy and negligence of genuine rights.
From 25 years class IV employees work as class IV and Forest guard work as Forest guards since their regularizations . Highly qualified Forest guards directly recruited are given low quota in promotions. If seniority is given weightage, why not education?….In 2003 AD, due to nepotism of that regime, SRO 84 was amended in which graduate quota was lowered from 60% to 10% and 8th pass quota was enhanced from 10%to 60%, when only few graduate well qualified people were working in the Department, who couldn’t face injustice with them due to minority in strength. Now ,due to direct recruitments graduates in the Department are in majority. Still, Graduates, Post-Graduate and PHD Forest guards are only given a 10% quota in DPCs, which is great injustice with educated and highly qualified youth, who are barred from opportunities to give their best and enhance their skills to benefit our green gold. Government sector has come under tremendous reforms by changing eligibility criteria’s (middle is ineligible now due to rising rate of literacy in present days). Unfortunately, the Forest Department still promotes ineligible people and ignores qualified youth. How can we establish sustainable forest management and ethics in work culture?…
In 2004 and 2010 ,JKSSB notified Forester and Forester posts. For decades, no Forester post has been directly filled. Now, control and responsibilities of Forests has automatically come under incharges and unskilled Foresters. Now, winter is coming , which can put these recruitments pending for another year as the physical test and walk-tests can be given in extreme cold weather. Delaying more has pained educated youth ,who desired to work in the department. Aspirants, request, on FastTrack basis recruitment must be filled. Wasting decades of time demoralizes educated youth.
Forest Protection forces work as a team to protect forests. Forest territorial officers are given responsibilities to effectively vigil the area by daily patrolling through dense forest covers and through wildlife areas. In this way, forest territorial officers habitually face risks mostly and give primary responsibilities. On the other hand, Forest Protection forces, who give secondary responsibilities are given numerous benefits: risk allowances,2& 1/2 Sunday extra allowances, ration money etc… Here the same objectives (i-e) forest protection for forest protection forces FPF and Forest frontline forces and at the same work place ,but different responsibilities. Unfortunately, FPF despite having secondary responsibilities are given risk allowances,2&1/2 Sunday extra allowances, ration money etc.. and on the other hand, forest frontline forces having primary responsibilities and much risk have been denied, which goes against Part IV, Directive Principles of State Policy(DPSP) of our country , which guarantees social and economic justice and one of Sustainable development goal at UN level.
As we know , manpower is part of the administrative machinery of the government. From top to bottom each level of government machinery is important to discharge their duties and responsibilities. So that, framework of government services and their wages policies have been categorized, shaped and provisioned as per the nature of the service (i-e) essential and non-essential services and the type and level of risk employees face at their workplace due to which risk allowances ,2&1/2 Sunday extra allowances ,ratio money etc are mandatorily given to them ,as they deserve these wage rights. So, the constitution of our country promises justifiable wage policy in the part IV Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) to achieve social and economic justice in case of wages and employment opportunities, which constitutional provision has made India one of the world’s best democratic nations. And now, it is the responsibility of our state government machinery, which is in your able hands to run the state as per the constitutional mechanism of India. We appreciate your efforts and honesty to run the state constitutionally.
Forest employees have low grades in the pay matrix and huge variations in pay scale as compared to other ranks of other Departments of J&K. Need is to establish justice in interior and exterior in different departmental organizations. So, forest officers that are forest frontline forces demand risk allowances,2& 1/2 Sunday Extra allowances and enhancement of grade in the pay matrix also. In this way, in interior and exterior justice can be established between different government organisations to eliminate centuries or decades old injustice with frontline forest officers.
Forest frontline territorial officers requests to do justice with them by giving risk allowances,2& 1/2 sunday extra allowances, enhancement of grade in pay matrix, enhancement of promotion quota for highly qualified working officials(60%) , fastrack recruitments of JKSSB Forester and Forester protection officer to achieve social and economic justice and also objectives of skill development and to boost morale of educated youth, who are backbone of Indian economic and social development.
Hon’ble Sir, Your justice is the justice promised in our Constitution and we have great trust in your faith in the constitution of our country and justice in leadership. Please fulfill these genuine demands ,as the previous governments of J&K have agreed these demands are right and genuine in nature.
Hilal Ahmad Lone
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