India DEHRADUN: India has been leading for many successive years for having the maximum casualties of foresters for the same pursuits, in comparison with Asia, Africa, America.
To commemorate foresters who laid down their lives to protect forests and wildlife, a day was observed at Forest Research Institute (FRI). Shashi Kumar, director-general of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education paid floral tributes on the foresters memorial at FRI to honour and remember all men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for forests and wildlife on National Forest Martyrs Day.
In exclusive interview to TOI, Sashi Kumar said, “According to International Rangers Federation, in matter of comparison of casualties of foresters with Asia , Africa and America, maximum foresters laid their lives are from Asia. If we compare with Asian countries, maximum foresters who lost their lives are from India. In 2011-12, 34 foresters died in India, maximum in the country Asia , Africa and USA. 2012-13, it was 14, again maximum, followed by 24 in 2013-14.” In Uttarakhand, many foresters were lost in the forest fire incidents as well.
He said, “There is conflict of interests and incidents such as forest fire etc which is resulting into deaths of foresters. Human-wildlife interface has also increased many notches above. The area of wildlife is disturbed because of several reasons, resulting into human-wildlife conflict on constant rise. Our front line forces are not equipped to face this challenge. They lack the modern training and equipment.”
On the issue of honouring the family members of those who laid down their lives, he said, “It is something, which the state and Centre government has to decide. It is because we felt strongly for our forest martyrs that we erected a Forester Memorial which is still being developed at FRI.”
He further said that the Indira Gandhi National Federation Academy would commemorate the sacrifice of P Srinivas, an Indian Forest Official who passed out from the academy and lost his life while combating with Veerapan, timbre merchant. He said, they would honour his family and also pay tribute to the officer in IGNFA premises on November 11 this year.
On this occasion Dr Savita, director FRI also recalled sacrifices made by foresters in various states of the country towards conserving the forests and wildlife. She emphasized that modern techniques must be put to use for better management of forests and wildlife.
“On this day in year 1730, over 360 people of Bishnoi tribe community were killed in Khejarli, now in Rajasthan, when they had objected to felling of Khejri trees by the king of Jodhpur. About 1400 foresters have so far attained martyrdom while safeguarding country’s forest wealth and wildlife in India, which is quite high as compared to the Asian and other countries of the world,” she said.