Where local officers are invisible at helm
Stakeholders Pitch For Reorientation, Timely Induction Policy
Srinagar, July 17: With accusations that local officers are being allegedly sidelined at key decision-making levels in the state administration doing rounds, the scenario in the Forest Department seems to be no different, thus causing a great degree of disillusionment among the state-based Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers.
This time around, a majority of key wings and positions at the Forest Department are being manned by non-local IFS officers. At least 15 top slots being held by them. These include the Principal Chief Conservator Forests (Forest Department); PCCF (Integrated Watershed Development Project); PCCF (Director Forest Protection); Additional PCCF (Chief Wildlife Warden, J&K); APCCF (Managing Director, State Forest Corporation); CCF (Eco-Tourism, Wildlife Department) and PCCF (Director State Forest Research Institute). Besides, PCCF (Director General, Wildlife) is on deputation to Ministry of Environment and Forests at the Government of India while the APCCF (Inspector General of Forests, Wildlife) is also on deputation to the Ministry. Also, a Special Secretary, Technical, one additional PCCF and three CCFs are non-locals holding some of the key slots.
“There are many outside the state officers at lower rung positions in the Forest Department. The overall IFS cadre strength is 106 in JK. By the rule of 50/50 ratio there should have been 50 percent officers from the state, which is not the case,” the sources said. “This imbalance in the placement of officers at the helm should be a matter of concern for one and all. It has not only caused disappointment among the state-based officers, but is affecting the overall services delivery in the Forest Department and its allied wings.”
Informed sources told Greater Kashmir that there are only a few IFS officers from Jammu and Kashmir at higher positions. “Actually the Government never looked into this issue and ensured that the officers from the state are given due representation at the higher levels in their home state. In the past, appropriate and timely inductions have also not taken place from time to time. With the result, the local officers could not find their positions at the senior level,” says a state-based IFS officer, insisting not to be named.
Sources said a number of local IFS officers are not being given independent charge even after their promotion. “There are many IFS officers from J&K who were promoted as Chief Conservators last year but they are not being given the independent charge for unknown reasons,” they said. “They are not holding the key positions which should have been the case ideally. These officers are retiring in next couple of years and deserve to be put at the decision-making levels for better localized service delivery. It would also give them a sense of confidence and respect which they deserve like their counterparts from outside the state. They have a vast experience in both professional and technical areas.”
Arguing on technical grounds, the sources said the non-local officers at the helm of affairs would be in service for years together. “So their placement at the higher levels can be done later as well,” they said.
It is widely believed that after 2014, there will only be a few promoted officers at the positions of conservators, and not beyond that.
“This is a very grim scenario. The placement of officers is up to the Government. They can find a mechanism whereby the state-based IFS officers are given due representation at the top levels,” the sources said. “Having a local officer at the top always means better guidance on policy making. The local officers happen to be in know-how of the local issues and the ways to address them.”
Observers believe the Government should address the issue immediately and also frame a better policy for future. “This year 40 candidates qualified the State Forest Service. Their induction into IFS should take place after 8 years, which is a norm actually. This would ensure a visibly good presence of state-based IFS officers at the helm of affairs in near future,” said an official of the Forest Department.
When contacted the Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad, admitted that the top slots in the Forest Department are being occupied by non-local officers. “But everything is being done as per the seniority which is why they have held the top slots. But wherever local officers are available as Chief Conservators and Conservators, we try to empower and promote them. But at the same time, I acknowledge that we are helpless before this seniority issue,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Altaf said the placement at the top level is done by the state cabinet. “You will have to appreciate our government for resolving the seniority issue of IFS officers after 25 years. We followed the issue in the Union Public Service Commission and Courts. But I assure you that wherever local officers are available, we will promote them,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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