No rulebook in place, Punjab’s green warriors flaunt khaki
Field staff can be seen flaunting the uniform and throwing their weight around like cops, with the department having no guidelines to stop its misusepunjab Updated: Oct 08, 2017 10:00 IST
As the forest department in Punjab continues to force its field staff wear khaki, several reports of misuse of the uniform have created a controversy, with the department having no rulebook or guidelines against its misuse.
The forest department had in 2012 made it compulsory for its staff up to the level of ranger to wear khaki in routine and several field employees can be seen flaunting the uniform and throwing their weight around like the police personnel.
The latest instance, according to senior forest officials, was reported in the last week of September from Patiala. During a routine check near the Tripuri police station in Royal City, cops stopped a young boy for traffic violations and he threatened the constables of dire consequences, claiming that his father was an SHO.
“When we checked his car, a khaki uniform with three stars was lying on the seat and the boy was claiming his father to be Punjab Police inspector. When we checked the uniform, it was found to be of a forest ranger,” an ASI-level official posted in Patiala traffic wing told HT.
The matter was not reported as the father of the boy tendered an apology for his son’s misconduct.
Hindustan Times has in its possession many Facebook grabs of forest guards flaunting their pictures wearing khaki having two or three stars.
Many of them are even claiming to be as assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs) in the forest department while having a single star on their uniform.
Interestingly, even a section of the field staff of the department is up in arms over the way the uniform was introduced. Only this week, the staff has decided to boycott the uniform demanding that the department come out with a rulebook before forcing the uniform on them.
“In 2012, the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) simply issued a letter directing us to wear kahki. But the home department doesn’t approve of khaki for us as there was no gazette notification issued by the department in this ragard,” said Iqbal Singh, president, Punjab Non-gazetted Officers’ Union, forest department.
He said, “At times, the field staff feel embarrassed when they are shunted out from government functions on the ground that they are not authorised to dress up like police personnel. There are no guidelines about wearing the uniform or punishment for its misuse.”
As per the department, forest range officers and deputy range officers have three stars on their shoulders and a forester’s uniform carries a single star. Forest guards’ uniform does not have any star.
Meanwhile, Punjab PPCF Jitender Sharma did not respond to repeated calls by Hindustan Times. To a query sent through an SMS, he only replied that it was not correct to say that there is no code of conduct.
“In fact, there are norms approved by the state government over the decades. Such codes exist for the forest department staff across the states. Nothing new or special in this regard,” he added.