When it comes to rewarding good work, it appears that the forest department ignores the field staff who do the actual work and only honour their senior supervising staff.
Angered by such duplicity, the forest workers in the team of Special Task Force (STF) has complained to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) through sub-divisional officer (SDO) citing how the department ignored them and only honoured some of their senior officials for busting an international gang of poachers.
The chief judicial magistrate of a Sagar court had convicted 13 international poachers and sentenced them to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for smuggling endangered turtles and pangolins from Madhya Pradesh to different parts of the world in July end.
Following this, forest department decided to honour the team of STF that worked on the case. However, five forest workers of STF who had done the actual ground work, were ignored, the complaint to the PCCF alleged. Some forest officers and forest personnel of Indore-Bhopal STSF were also included in the awardees, though their contribution is debateable. Some senior officers also felt that injustice was being done and the then SDO of STSF Sagar did not attend the function.
International gang caught first in 2017
In 2017, the first accused of the gang smuggling red-crowned roofed turtle and pangolins of rare species found in Chambal river was caught by the then SDO Shraddha Pandre and Sagar STSF.
On the basis of interrogation of smuggler Nandlal, the first accused, links were found to the international gang, in which smugglers were caught from Chennai, Kolkata, Mainpuri, Agra and Morena.
On 19 July 2021, the court sentenced all the smugglers to seven years' imprisonment.
Announcing the honour only for some officials
On July 29, i.e. International Tiger Day, Forest Minister Vijay Shah decided to honour the STF team. This included 24 members of the STSF team and three ADPOs from Indore, Bhopal and Sagar.
The then SDO Pandre was also named among those who were to be rewarded, but did not come to collect the citation of honour.
Forest workers who were a part of the team Harisingh Thakur, Raghuraj Sen, Mustafa Khan, Veran Singh Rajput, and Bhagwat Singh Gaur were not invited and neither did they get any kind of recognition.
The five forest workers lodged their objection to the then SDO. Based on that she wrote a letter to PCCF.
Pandre said, “The forest workers who were involved in the action were not honoured.”
More events to be organised
PCCF Alok Kumar said, “Every member of the team that took action should be honoured. The award process is still on. More events will be organised soon. They say that it is the work of the committee of the department which people to include in the list. There is nothing to complain about.”
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