Nearly 366 posts were lying vacant in the forest department, the National Green Tribunal was informed on Wednesday.
But the problem is bigger than the numbers suggest.
These vacancies are based on the number of sanctioned strength (1,552). Sources maintained that official manpower was sanctioned years ago based on the requirements at that time. But the present day requirement is more and there has not been any reassessment in years, forest officials said.
The manpower shortage has badly affected plantation, maintenance and protection of greenery, besides capture, protection and transfer of wildlife. There is no one to ensure soil conservation and provide technical know-how. Administrative works have taken a hit.
After a series of reports in Hindustan Times, the tribunal had on July 22 asked the department to come clean on its staff strength. The last report, headlined “Govt sits over pleas to fill vacant posts in forest depts”, appeared in HT on July 9.
The department informed the tribunal that it had approached the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board for the recruitment of 36 forest guards and three wildlife inspectors. The department said it was making efforts to fill other vacancies.
An affidavit filed by the department showed most vacancies needed to be filled at the middle and lower-level.
The department proposed to Delhi’s service department, revision of rules for recruitment of six forest rangers and 224 labourers. HT learnt there was no frontline staff for night duty with most wireless sets also remaining non-functional.