The Forest department has allegedly appointed at least 17 blue eyed non-gazetted officials of State Forest Corporation (SFC) as Divisional Forest Officers (DFO’s).
Ironically, this all has been happening when the department has nearly 33 grade 1 range officers awaiting their elevation as DFOs. Sources told a local news agency, KNS that all these officials taken from the SFC on deputation were working as works supervisors before being given DFO charges following their deputation in the Forest department. “Forest department has called two influential blue eyed officials from SFC and wildlife to hold the coveted divisional cadre posts of Agrostologist. There are at least 17 DFOs who are actually works supervisors and field assistants in their parent department SFC, and can in no way hold the charge of DFO. All these non-gazetted officials have been even given the DDO powers,” they added.
Some of the officials who are from the SFC and have been given the charge as DFOs in the Forest department include Altaf Hussain Qureshi DFO Social Forestry Kupwara, Mohammad Jalib, DFO, Research Division Srinagar, Amaranth Bhagat, Gudi Ram, both DFO Social Forestry, Nisar Hussain, Mass Media Officer in Environment and Ecology department, Liyaqat Ahmad Dar DFO Ecology and Environment, Farooq Ahmad DFO Social Conservation and Hakeem Mukhtar DFO IWDP Phuru Langeth while Muneer Shair has been given charge as Regional Director Kashmir Soil.
“Two among these are not even foresters in their parent department,” sources told KNS.
The Forest department officers have cried foul and claimed that the political and bureaucratic intervention has marred their right of becoming the DFOs and at the same time has been instrumental in carrying out huge scale financial bungling in the department through these ‘imported’ and ‘ineligible’ officers.
“You have more than 30 capable and eligible officers in your own department waiting for the promotion and postings, but you prefer to import ineligible officials from a Corporation into a regular government department in violation of the rules,” a senior Forest told KNS requesting not to be named.
Meanwhile Commissioner Secretary Forests Shiekh Aijaz Iqbal declined to comment on the issue. “No, I won’t comment on it,” the Commissioner told KNS.
Minster for Forests Mian Altaf Ahmad told KNS that there is no DFO on deputation in any of the territorial divisions in the department. However, he admitted that certain officers from SFC have been deputed in other wings as DFO but said none of them was a works supervisor.
“We have 41 posts of DFO vacant, but the training of 2009 DFO batch is now over and we are expecting them very shortly in the department, after which these officers will be sent back to SFC,” Altaf told KNS.
He added that the department was short of rangers also as no recruitment was had done for more than two decades. Regarding the DDO powers to the non gazetted officials, the Minster said, “Let me verify this first.”