Pay parity across states recommended for frontline forest staff
New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Pay parity across states and facilities on par with paramilitary forces for the frontline forest staff, especially those who are martyred in line of duty, are among the main recommendations of a report about the working condition of those staffers submitted to Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav on Tuesday.
It is the committee on 'Improving and strengthening the working conditions of Forest Frontline Staff' that the Centre had constituted in September 2020 after the IFS Association had written a letter to the then Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
The committee was chaired by Keshav Varma, founding director of the World Bank's Global Tiger Initiative and its mandate was to look into the concerns related to the work conditions of the frontline forest staff on protection duty. It was also to come up with suggestions regarding forest martyrs, i.e., forest personnel who are killed on duty while engaged in forest protection work.
The important recommendations include treating the forest personnel who died in line of duty as a forest martyr and offering government facilities to his / her families; pay parity with paramilitary forces; same pay scale and other facilities across states, forest bravery medal on lines with police bravery medal and infrastructure facilities for forest staff in remote areas of their posting.
Asked what the issue with pay parity across states was, a senior official explained: "Across states our ground staff has different pay scales. Work is the same but the pay they get is different. We have recommended that there should be parity."
The letter was a result of frustration on part of the forest officers because of lack of support from the government for their welfare and protection while in line of duty and therefore they had sought a number of measures through their letter and highlighted the problems faced by them. The forest field staff often works in remotest of the locations in difficult conditions with which they ensure the "ecological security of the nation, even at high personal costs," it had said.
As many as 162 foresters had lost their lives in India while on duty between 2012 and 2017, the highest in the world, as per the International Ranger Federation.