Forests form a significant part of natural resources of a country due to which it becomes vital to conserve and manage them. Forestry is the science of planting, managing, maintaining as well as conserving forests and its related resources. The professional who practices forestry is known as a forester. A forester is involved in many activities such as protection of natural resources, ecological restoration, timber harvesting, etc. A forester also develops forest management plans, selects sites for growing new tress, and plans and supervises forestry projects. J&K is famous tourist place in the Country and in the World for its natural beauty due to mountains cover with lush green forests. For developing specialized technical manpower in the forest sector in India, B.Sc forestry Degree was approved by ICAR and notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and ICAR as professional degree. Despite of holding degrees (B.Sc, MSc, Ph.D) in Forestry, the forest department has shown surprising apathy towards the recruitment process as for about a decade not a single non gazetted (Forester/ Field Inspector) posts has been advertised by the department for the degree holders. Due to this grave negligence, most of the forestry professionals are eagerly waiting to appear and qualify in the examination of the said department. The revision of eligibility of the Forestry posts (Gazetted and non Gazetted) is very long pending issue and needs to be resolved as soon as possible to smoothen the recruitment process which is on halt for more than a decade now. It is requested to make B.Sc. Forestry as sole eligibility for all (gazzetted viz. Assistant conservator Forest, Assistant Director Forest, Range officer(Wildlife/soil conservation) and non-gazetted viz. Forester, Forest inspector, Field assistant, so that justice is delivered at an earliest. The Forestry graduates possess required skills and knowledge to serve the department, which will benefit our UT and Country by increasing Forest cover (green gold) and Economy as well as stress upon the climate change issue. Therefore we demand increase in the professional strength by reorganizing and creating new vacancies in the department. Thirdly, the posts should be immediately advertised so that highly qualified degree holders who are crossing the age limits can appear in these examinations which they yearn for years and serve the department and People to their full potential. The irony is that during last one decade not even a single non gazzeted post were advertised by JKSSB for forestry graduates and from 3 years no Gazzeted post has been advertised till date in JK Forest department, and even in the ongoing fast recruitment as promised by Central Govt and Honorable LG more than 20,000 posts has been advertised under different notifications, But unfortunately not a single post has been reserved for Forestry graduates even in recent Forest Department advertisement notification No. 03 of 2021. It is worth mentioning here that in the recently advertised posts of Field assistant and Field inspector by JKSSB (Advertisement No. 03 of 2021, Dated: 04-06-2021), degree/diploma in civil/Mechanical/electrical engineering, Master degree in Zoology/chemistry/Environmental Science is eligibility criteria for the said posts in above notification, but unfortunately in the said notification of JK Forest department we forestry graduates/post graduates are not even eligible for single post in this advertisement. Such blunders in eligibility criteria by higher-ups in the administration are adding to the frustration of already distressed unemployed forestry professionals.
Every year more than 100 students from J&K complete their graduation/Post graduation in the field of forestry from both SKUAST and other institutions of the country. In pursuance to Cabinet Decision No. 96/6/2017 Dated 10.06.2017, policy for engagement of 534 registered unemployed Forestry Graduate/ Post graduate/DDR Trainee as Rehbar-e-Janglat was formulated vide Govt.Order 155-Fst of 2017 dated 20-6-2017 .The Policy provided that the scheme shall seize to exist automatically after engagement of the last registered candidate as Rehbar-e-Janglat covered under the scheme. The students who completed their graduation in forestry after 2014 were not eligible for REHABAR-E JANGLAT Policy. Now more than 600 forestry graduates/post graduates are unemployed from 2014, and only 34 out of 600 Students were adjusted in JK forest department as RANGE OFFICERs. It is therefore advisable that the above policy should be reviewed again as few post are still lying vacant and the unemployed graduates may be absorbed in the department immediately. In this view we demand the amendments in the eligibility criteria shall be done on priority basis as we have been waiting for the vacancies in Forest Department since a long time.
1. Advertisement of vacant posts of Range officer Grade 1 on fast track basis.
2. Introducing Forestry as an optional subject in JKPSC (Civil service Examination, KAS/KPS).
3. Filling up of vacant posts in the forest and allied departments on priority basis with technocrats (i. e. B. Sc Forestry/M.Sc Forestry by direct recruitment).
4. Relaxation in height criteria for female technocrats.
5. Reviewing of REHABAR-E JANGLAT Policy.
It is time we rethink why forest graduates are being sidelined by policy makers and administrators. The more we ignore forestry professionals, the more we will compromise with on our forest resources and the environment.
(Writers are pursuing Ph. D in Forestry at Faculty of Forestry SKUAST-K. Views are their own)