Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Forest dept officials move in AC cars to count lions

Forest dept officials move in AC cars to count lions
Times of India

No less than 70 air-conditioned cars have been hired by the forest department for the officials during the fourday census which concluded on Tuesday.

Sources in the department said that the forest department was estimating an expenditure of 25 lakh for the census. Sources said that during census the officials especially the senior officers used these cars while travelling. Not only that, some officials in the forest department were also seen travelling in cars with their families. A volunteer also said that the choice of the volunteer was also to be questioned as those selected were not associated with the field.

However, a senior officer said that these cars were hired in the name of the sub-zonal team which were to travel from one beat to another clicking photographs and recording the location of the lions on the GPS. He said that since these teams were to move around quickly they needed cars. However, these teams were given jeeps while the cars were being kept at the services of the officials.

He said that the local villagers should have been given preference than as they were aware of the movement of the animal in their respective areas. A officer refusing to be quoted said that several of the volunteers instead of helping the officials were seen standing and watching lions. Officials said that there was no screening of volunteers. It is worthy recalling that the volunteers even complained of families attending the census.

Officials said that the mismanagement part was more in the revenue area where even friends were taken in the teams. A local journalist from Amreli said that he had visited the census not officially but illegally with few of his friends who were volunteering for the census.

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