Hyderabad: The path to take action under the PD Act against people committing forest offences, such as illegal felling of trees in forests and poaching of wildlife, has been cleared with the State Level Forest Protection Committee giving the go-ahead to a proposal to take tough action against such crimes..
The Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary SK Joshi, has approved enforcement of the PD Act, which will result in imprisonment of those charged under the Act. The Committee, which met last weekend, also decided that a comprehensive action plan will be prepared to tackle and control forest offences along with charging people who pilfer power to set up electrified fences to kill wild animals under the relevant provisions of the law relating to theft of electricity. In a significant decision, the committee also called for detailed examination of a proposal on appointing legal advisors in each district for taking up cases filed against criminals to a logical conclusion through prosecuting them. The committee also examined a proposal for setting up of police outposts in specific locations identified by the Forest Department to prevent encroachment of forest land. The Chief Secretary suggested that the newly elected sarpanches should be taken into confidence on protection measures and the need to preserve forests. General body meetings of the villages should be held and sarpanches should be encouraged to set up local forest protection committees, he said. The Committee, according to a Forest Department press release on Tuesday, also approved release of Rs 2.25 crore for fire control and fire-fighting operations in the State’s forests. With respect to the setting up of the Special Tiger Protection Force which will be funded on a 60:40 ratio by the Central and State governments, the Committee said the two companies of STPF would be headed by an officer of the rank of Assistant Conservator of Forests each. Each STPF team will comprise 111 members including three Forest Range Officers, 81 guards and 26 forest watchers. The meeting, the press release said, was attended by Director General of Police M Mahender Reddy, Principal Secretary Energy and Forests Ajay Misra, Principal Secretary Finance Ramakrishna Rao, Secretary Legal Deparment Niranjan Rao, Secretary Tribal Welfare Department MD Ekka, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force) PK Jha, PCCF (Vigilance) P Raghuveer, Additional PCCF (Wildlife) Munindra and other senior officers..