Expect Delhi forest dept to be revamped ‘for meaningful enforcement of rule of law’: NGT

In its compliance report, the Delhi govt said it had started the process to fill 226 vacant posts. The total number of posts are 434.

Hearing an application about staff vacancies and for enhancing infrastructure of the forest department, a National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench earlier this week said it expected the Delhi forest department to be revamped “for meaningful enforcement of the rule of law”.

After the government submitted a compliance report, the bench, in the order on Tuesday, said there had been substantial progress in addressing issues, and further objections filed by the applicant, such as slow progress in recruitment and lack of space to establish forest department headquarters, can be dealt with by the Delhi government.

“The application will stand disposed of with the hope and expectation that the authorities concerned will revamp the forest department appropriately for meaningful enforcement of rule of law,” the order stated.

In the compliance report, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Delhi, informed the tribunal that the government had started the process to fill 226 vacant posts, including that of 211 forest guards, 11 wildlife guards and 4 forest rangers. The total number of posts are 434 – 398 forestry staff and 36 ministerial staff.

Online exams were held for the posts of forest rangers and wildlife guards in March, but the ones scheduled for forest guards in April had to be postponed indefinitely due to the Covid pandemic.

Among other posts, 147 security guards have been engaged, and framing and finalisation of recruitment rules for 66 vacancies of ‘foresters’ is underway.

In terms of infrastructure, 23 motorcycles, six multi-utility vehicles, 2 field vehicles and 50 handheld GPS devices have been procured and distributed.

“Delhi Public Works Department has been requested for (additional) office space. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been requested for land allotment for permanent building for headquarters,” the PCCF said in the compliance report.

A uniform for forest guards and other staff has also been approved by the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and vetting is underway with the law department, the PCCF said.

The NGT bench noted, “The applicant has filed objections to the report to the effect that there is no State Forest Service, no feeder cadre for promotion, non-fulfilment of posts by deputation as far as the posts of Assistant Conservator of Forests are concerned… The issue basically being of governance, in view of substantial progress, further surviving issues pointed out by the applicant can be left to be dealt with by the Delhi government.”

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