The State government has identified 10 vulnerable sites in forest beats where there is uncontrolled timber smuggling and decided to locate Forest Protection Squads in those places.
The Forest department would come up with 10 base camps in those places to check timber mafias. The squads would mainly comprise ex-army personnel and they will be fully equipped.
The 10 most vulnerable sites include Balikiary (Athagarh), Podadiha and Bangriposi (Baripada), Sorada and Baguda-Polsara (Ghumsur South), Harichandanpur (Keonjhar Wildlife), Dasaplla (Nayagarh), Ranapur (Khurda), Badarama (Bamra) and Dhama (Sambalpur South)
“The sites have been selected on the basis of incidences of serious forest offences, fatal assaults on forest staff, movement of organised mafia and resistances offered of by people to timber mafia,” said Suresh Mohanty, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest.
Mr. Mohanty said at least 10 ex-army personnel would be deployed at base camp and they would be provided with vehicles and communication gadgets. “There main task will be to keep close eye on smuggling activities. They will also be asked to stay alert to any wildlife crime taking place in the vicinity,” the PCCF said.
Forest department has proposed to spend Rs. 2.64 crore on forest protection squad at 10 base camps this year. The budget encompasses construction of barracks at camp site, provision of mobile sets and search lights and medical check-ups.
Sources said forest department had in fact considered about 25 to 30 vulnerable sites in different forest divisions of the State where timber smuggling was found to be rampant. But of those 10 had been identified as the most vulnerable.
However, the forest department has proposed to spend Rs. 8.66 crore on strengthening overall forest protection activities. The department would engage 30 youths each in 37 divisions to assist forest guards and foresters in theft prone areas. A control room would be maintained for forest protection activities.
Situation in case of Similpal National Park seemed to be worse due to its location.