The Indian Forest Service (IFS) will not be split into two — one each for wildlife and forestry. The suggestion of separation had come from a committee of National Board for Wildlife headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“The ministry has declined splitting the forest services into two,” said the country’s Director General of Forests P.J. Dalip Kumar. “The reason that wildlife conservation has to take support from forest conservation only.”
The ministry’s decision comes as a sigh of relief for IFS officers, who man India’s most dense forests and endangered species in remote areas. They feared that the split would undermine the importance of their service.
“We had never advocated for splitting the service,” a senior IFS officer said. “But we always wanted that a separate department of forests should be created in the ministry to be headed by an IFS officer.”
Number of wildlife expert such as Valmik Thapar, Belinda Wright and Bittu Sehgal had advocated splitting of the service for better protection of endangered species. But, the ministry believes the splitting will create more problems than providing solution.
In a bid to improve the IFS, the government has decided to start three fellowship programmes in the 12-plan starting from 2012.
They would be ‘Hari Singh Fellowship’ for new officers and ‘SK Fellowship’ and ‘C. Ranganath Fellowship’ for officials in different levels in the cadre.
Under Hari Singh Fellowship, officials found to be having extraordinary interest and aptitude for wildlife, would be selected for specialised training at the Wildlife Institute of India.
“The aim of this fellowship is to catch them young, because once they join administrative work and other duties; it becomes difficult to go back to study,” Kumar said.
For the mid-career officers have food field knowledge, the ministry will have SK Fellowship for specialisation in any forestry disciplines. In C. Ranganath fellowship, the ministry will support the selected officers with grants for liberal travel, equipment, to engage research assistance and travel abroad to study abroad.