Age hurdle for Assam tiger protection force
A STAFF REPORTER
Guwahati, Oct. 3: Age has stood in the way of forming a Special Tiger Protection Force in Assam proposed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
According to the guidelines issued by the conservation authority, the STPF personnel cannot serve once they reach 40 and should later be absorbed by the forest departments of their states, a senior forest official said.
“After 40 years there is no job in the department and where will the person then go?” a forest official asked this correspondent.
It would be very difficult for the forest department to go ahead with the setting up of the force comprising forest personnel, he said.
“Employment is already a burning issue in the state. Agreeing to the proposal and later finding that it has created more problems will be a big mistake,” he added.
The official said as posting in the STPF was a contract job there was every possibility that a person after serving the force could connive with poachers once he lost his job on reaching 40. “This could be dangerous as the person would be in the know of animal movements in the parks.”
Assam is already raising a second battalion of the Assam Forest Protection Force.
Recruitment to the STPF will be done by the state forest departments.
Recruitment to the posts of tiger force foresters and special tiger guards of the STPF will be done by the tiger reserves. The tiger force’s assistant conservator of forests and range officers will be appointed on deputation from the state forest department.
The force will be wholly funded by the Centre.
A one-time grant of Rs 50 crore has been proposed to the conservation authority for raising, arming and deploying the STPF in the tiger reserves.
The state government will be required to confer powers on the STPF personnel under Section 197 of the CrPC, 1973, and other powers, including the power to use firearms to combat tiger poaching and related offences.
The conservation authority rule says that the STPF, not being an “Armed Force of the Union”, would be used only for tiger protection and under no circumstances would be requisitioned in aid of the civil authority or for any work pertaining to the district.
In an emergency situation, the ministry of environment and forests will have the supreme authority to transfer the STPF companies from one place to another. The Centre will also have the full authority to ask a state government to make the companies available for deployment in other tiger reserves within that state.
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