Wildlife conservationist Giridhar Kulkarni has requested Karnataka chief secretary Vandita Sharma to exempt officials, staff and vehicles of the wildlife, territorial, vigilance and working plan wings of the Karnataka forest department from duty in the upcoming winter session of the state Assembly in Belagavi from December 19 to 29.
Kulkarni said that any withdrawal of officials, staff and vehicles from their routine duties might compromise forest and wildlife conservation on the ground.
“As would be aware, the Election Commission of India has regularly issued orders and standing instructions by providing exemption to the vehicles and staff of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks all over the country from election duties. I would like to bring to your kind notice that every year, the officials, staff and vehicles of wildlife, territorial, vigilance and working plan wings of the Karnataka forest department are deployed for session duty during the winter session at Belagavi. And this deployment list includes Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary, territorial ranges of biodiversity working circle areas and many other territorial ranges,” Kulkarni wrote to the chief secretary.
The Election Commission of India in 1998 issued instructions exempting staffers and vehicles of the forest department from such duties.
Kulkarni said, “Officials, staff and vehicles from other wings of the Department may be arranged in case of any shortage. Lack of staff and patrol vehicles could result in incidents of poaching, illegal mining etc.”