At Maharashtra’s sole scuba diving institute in Tarkarli in Konkan, 60 forest officials have been taught lessons on marine conservation and management. With the curriculum including subjects such as marine biodiversity, management issues and marine protected areas, the sessions are first conducted in classrooms and then in the Arabian sea.
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The Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports, in Tarkarli, Sindhudurg, which is run by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, is the centre for these training sessions.
In three weeks’ time in January, a batch of 20 forest officials from the Maharashtra forest cadre, will be taught scuba diving and how to assess the marine biodiversity. According to forest officials, they usually go through an extensive coursework on forest management, wildlife and territorial studies but not in-depth training on the marine ecosystem.
Sarang Kulkarni, marine biologist and chief instructor at IISDA, said three batches have been taught so far, each a set of 20 forest officials of varied rank. The first batch was a month-long programme. In January 2015, the officials were from Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. “That (January 2015) was a month-long training exercise. We have subsequently revised our structure of the batches. The following year, in January 2016, 20 forest officers were taught, one week in theory and then another week on the field (Arabian Sea). The current batch has finished their theory week and are expected in January to go and learn in the sea,” said Kulkarni.