Chennai: The tiger reserves at Kalakkad-Mundanthurai in Tenkasi and Aanamalai in Pollachi are without a field director as are the forest circles of Trichy, Villupuram, Madurai and Virudhunagar, affecting protection and conservation measures.
While the post of field director at the Pollachi reserve has remained vacant since May 2019, at Kalakkad-Mundanthurai the last field director was promoted more than three months ago and moved to Chennai. Since then, the reserve has been under additional charge of another officer.
The post in Virudhunagar circle has been vacant for more than a year, that in Trichy circle for nine months and those in Madurai and Villupuram for nearly six months, said an official.
The role of field director, the strategic head for implementation of all measures, is crucial. Earlier managed by an officer of the rank of conservators , it is now occupied by an additional principal chief conservator of forests. However, once the officer concerned is promoted as principal chief conservator of forests , he/she moves to the headquarters, forcing another official to hold additional charge, the official explained.
A senior officer said the department lacked inverted pyramid growth, mainly due to the lack of time-bound promotions. Unlike the police service or the administrative service, where promotion is given automatically on completion of 13 years of service, officials in the forest service often wait a lot more than 13 years to get promoted.
A senior official, requesting anonymity, said the state forest department was readying a proposal to take up the long due reorganization, including posts from the rank of rangers to additional principal chief conservator of forests. Steps are being taken up to fill the various vacancies in the department, he added. “However, for the government, the vacancies or promotions of officers are not a priority due to the lockdown,” the official explained.
As far as the Indian Forest Service officials in the state are concerned, the next cadre review is only expected to be done in 2022 by the Union government.