THE STATE Government is mulling setting up a relief fund for forest personnel to take care of their medical and other occupational hazards. The National Forest Commission (NFC), headed by former Chief Justice of India BN Kirpal, proposed this idea in its report submitted to the Centre three months ago.
The NFC suggested that forest departments across the country establish a corpus fund for forest employees in case of medical emergencies or other occupational hazards. Forest Department Principal Secretaries and Principal Chief Conservators of Forests from all states discussed the recommendation at a meeting in New Delhi last month.
Although every state already has funds and means to provide financial assistance to employees in emergencies, often the help takes a long time in reaching the targeted beneficiaries, particularly those posted in remote areas.
It is being felt that the new fund - likely to be known either as the Forest Service Relief Fund or Forest Cess – will go a long way in addressing the problem.
The forest departments could release requisite money for needy personnel immediately. There are about 12,000 forest guards and other staffs on duty in MP and many of them are posted in far-flung areas.
However, various modalities are involved in the process for setting up the proposed fund in the State. “We still have a long way to go before such a fund is set up in MP as intricacies like fund’s composition and other issues are yet to be worked out,’’ Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Coordination, J P Sharma told the Hindustan Times.
“We already have a Forest Benevolent Fund but it is purely of a contributory nature,’’ Sharma stated. He said all officers and staff of the State Forest Department donate their one-day salary to this fund.
Sharma said the new fund is likely to be more in nature of a corpus fund. Major contribution in it is likely to be from the State Government while the Central Government might also chip in some part, he added.