Andhra Pradesh Forest Academy faces teething problems

Rajahmundry: The AP Forest Academy is being dogged with a series of teething problems like shortage of manpower, lack of proper accommodation, paucity of funds and no office equipment like a computer even after eight months since its inception in Rajahmundry. The academy has started to function in a full-fledged manner from January 2, 2017 on the premises of the Regional Forest Research Centre at Diwan Cheruvu located just  a few kilometers from the city. It is being headed by a director who just been appointed. Out of the sanctioned posts of eight divisional forest officer-ranked officials, there is only one officer who is discharging his duties in the capacity of a deputy director while the remaining seven posts are lying vacant. Two posts of ranger officers and four posts of section officers are still unoccupied.

The academy is supposed to train 180 officers, including 60 forest section officers and 120 forest beat officers on various skills like forest protection and wildlife management, per annum. But in reality, it has trained only 14 officers in the first batch and 30 officers are currently undergoing training in the second batch. As the sanctioned posts are lying vacant, the authorities have hired five retired DFOs having expertise in specific fields, to train the officers and they are being paid an honorarium. With no proper accommodation on the academy premises, the trainee officers are being accommodated in rented buildings while a few women officers are asked to stay in the cramped space in the academy campus on safety grounds.

There is no full-fledged office and staff and surprisingly, not a single computer is allotted to the office except on a temporary arrangement to carry out day-to-day activities. Though the state government has made tall claims of promoting a Digital AP, no facility has been provided at the academy to promote the same. Even though the trainee officers are supposed to undergo training in a well-established computer lab as they have to get exposure to the geo-mapping of forest cover, wildlife and satellite imageries and others, no such facility exists at present. The officers are also to be trained on the usage of GIS-equipped gadgets to scan a specific area in a vast forest cover to be able to locate any tree felling, patches of wildfire and poaching of wild animals, but no such equipment is available at the academy.

The academy also faces paucity of funds as the promised sanction of `100 crore by the CM to strengthen the infrastructure has remained unfulfilled for a long time. Earlier, the state government had even failed to release salaries for the skeletal staff and the honorarium to the hired trainers for nearly six months, causing them severe hardships in running their households. AP Forest Academy deputy director Y.S. Naidu said, “Though we are facing a few teething problems, we are still providing good training to the officers and we expect to develop the academy into the best in the entire country.”

Infographics:

i) Proposed sanction of 49 hectares reserve forest area at Diwan Cheruvu to the AP Forest Academy to set up the office, training facilities and residential quarters to the staff remains on paper. The deal is estimated to cost Rs three crores.

ii) Officers have grand plans to start yoga classes, physical training, conducting of regular parades and other activities for the trainee officers once they get a permanent accommodation.

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