Bengaluru: Forest fires, animal deaths, staff shortage, and now indiscipline. The state forest department seems to be lost in the woods and lurching from one crisis to another. The latest example of the internal crisis and wrong priorities of the department pertains to a notification issued by the top state forest official to extend safari timings in the state by half an hour to bring them in line with other tiger reserves.
In an order dated Feb 18, 2017, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief wildlife warden ordered the forest department to extend the timings. However, according to sources, the order has not been implemented by a few Conservators of Forests citing non-availability of human resources.
In the order issued, the Chief Wildlife Warden states that owning to the request of Managing Director, Jungle Lodges and Resorts on 23 July 2016, the department has decided to extend the timings of the safari.
The order says that following the instructions of Tourism and IT, BT Minister, the timing has been revised considering the interest of visitors to forests and wildlife sanctuaries. Mentioning the proposed timing as per the instructions, the safari between the months of February and September will be between 6 am to 9.30 am in the morning and 3.30 to 7 pm in the evening, while between the months of October and January, the safari in the mornings will be between 6.15 am to 9.30 am and 3 pm to 6.30 pm. The order states that this should be implemented with immediate effect.
However, trouble started when some of the officers, including Conservator of Forests, Nagarhole, National Park, refused to implement the same.
Sources in the department said officials have cited pressure on the staff as the reason to not extend timings of safari. It is also learnt that officers are demanding a three-month closure of the park similar to tiger reserves in Northern India during fire season so that the staff can be diverted to patrolling. Apart from this, officials have also demanded closing the safari for a day along the lines of other sanctuaries.
The tug of war has led to a deadlock over the safari issue. The Conservator of Forests, Nagarhole, was not available for comment.