As many as 173 young people, including 40 girls, today joined the Punjab forest department as security guards after undergoing one month induction training at the Police Recruits Training Centre (PRTC) Jahan Khelan, 8 kms from here.
HS Gujral, chief conservator of forests, Punjab, who was the chief guest on the occasion, took salute of the passing-out parade of the first batch of the forest guards.
Addressing the gathering, Gujral advised the passing-out forest guards to work with commitment and honesty. He lauded the services of PRTC for imparting excellent training to them during their one month course. He said it was a matter of pride that for the first time 40 girls had been included as forest guards which was the highest in the country.
He said the forest department would recruit 230 new forest guards very soon.
To raise the state forest to 15 per cent from 7 per cent, a special campaign would be launched in the next 10 years in Punjab especially for Hoshiarpur and Fazilka for which the Punjab chief minister had formulated a special plan.
Commandant of the PRTC Ravinder Kumar Bakshi said apart from basic training these trainees had been imparted education about forest laws, protecting and maintaining forests and how to face eventualities.
Later, the passing-out forest guards presented a colourful cultural programme to mark the occasion.