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Updated: May 24, 2013 02:47 IST

700 tribesmen to guard forests

Ignatius Pereira
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Chinnappa Raja, chief of the Muduvan tribe in the Malakkapara forest areas of
Thrissur district, is elated at the decision of the Forest Department to recruit 700 tribal people as forest watchers. — Photo: C. Suresh Kumar
The Hindu Chinnappa Raja, chief of the Muduvan tribe in the Malakkapara forest areas of Thrissur district, is elated at the decision of the Forest Department to recruit 700 tribal people as forest watchers. — Photo: C. Suresh Kumar

State to conduct special recruitment drive

The State government has cleared a Forest Department proposal to create 700 posts of tribal watcher to recruit members of forest-dwelling tribes through a special drive.

Chief Wildlife Warden V. Gopinathan had sent the proposal to the government, considering the role these tribes can play in cracking down on ganja cultivation, poaching and sandalwood smuggling and helping prevent forest fire and collect intelligence on terrorist and anti-national activities.

The Government Order says the recruitment will also be an effort to improve the living standards of tribal people. The post, equivalent in rank to that of reserve watcher, will be in the pay scale of Rs. 8,500-13,210.

The special drive will be taken up in all districts, expect Alappuzha, which has no forests worth the name. Each district has been allocated a specific number of vacancies. Idukki has got the highest of 220 vacancies followed by Palakkad and Wayanad with 120 each. Thrissur and Pathanamthitta have 50 vacancies each. Kollam has 40, Malappuram, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram 20 each, Ernakulam 10 and Kannur and Kasaragod 20 together.

“Able-bodied literate tribal youths living in settlements within the forests and along the forest fringes of the State” will be recruited, the order says. The age limit is 50, minimum height required 163 cm and minimum educational qualification Class 7. Children of unwed mothers will get preference. The selected candidates will undergo a three-month training in forest schools.

Among the 700 posts, those eligible for women will be identified separately and only women will be appointed to them. The decision comes as a boon for tribal people who have been serving the Forest Department for daily wages for three months a year, mainly for fire-prevention work from January to March. At other times, they go for menial work or remain unemployed.

Chinnappa Raja, chief of the Muduvan tribe within the Malakkapara forest areas of Thrissur district, says the recruitment gives much hope for his people and those of other forest-dwelling tribes. The pay scale is attractive and the tribes will be happy to serve the State. He considers himself an eligible candidate.

The government order says there are 700 tribal settlements, 17,000 families and a population of 75,000 within the forests of the State. They depend on the forests for a livelihood and are well versed with the forest terrain which others find inhospitable.

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