Sunday, March 1, 2009
and 26,713 hectares for iron ore mining. These lost regions provided a safe shelter for elephants, bison, tigers, king cobras, leopards, black panthers and spotted deer to name a few. These statistics exclude the forest encroachment, which is about 26,000 hectares and also illicit felling by poachers. In fact at least once in a week the local papers carry reports on forest smuggling. Added to these, indiscriminate poaching of animals has proved disastrous for the survival of these animals.The forest officials complain there are not enough staff. One guard has to manage around 10 sq km of forest region. Moreover, the staff are not provided modern weapons to match those of smugglers.People allege that many forest officials are hand in glove with the smugglers and funds provided for forestation are misused.The forest development programme launched under the assistance of Overseas Development Agency of UK, which envisaged the joint management of the forest by the forest department and the villagers, proved a failure.The village forest panchayats formed under the programme have become defunct today, thanks to the apathy of the forest officials, who did not want others to participate in the management of the forest.