Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Officers Association today said its members are planning to forego the induction into Indian Forest Service (IFS) due to the discriminatory attitude of the government towards them.
"Since opting for IFS is purely a matter of choice, the state officers have decided to deposit an affidavit in the Supreme Court to their will not to opt for the service," president of SFSOA Munshi Iqbal said.
He said it was a grave injustice to the State forest officers that service eligibility for promotion from Range Officer Grade-I to Assistant Conservator Forest was ten years while in the sister departments of Wild Life and Soil Conservation it was only five and three years respectively.
"There is a lobby within the Forest Department which is trying to change the demography of the department. As per the rules, 50 per cent officers are drawn from IFS cadre (direct recruits) while the other 50 per cent are to the promoted from the state officers.
"But this is not being done. Out of the 106 posts, the direct recruits are occupying 55 posts while the state cadre officers promoted are only 18. Even these 18 officers are going to retire from service in couple of years," he said.
Iqbal said the 33 posts, which are to be filled by the state officers, can remain vacant for the next five years if the government does not take immediate corrective measures by granting promotions.
"The forest department lobby in nexus with the bureaucracy in Civil Secretariat have stalled the confirmation of all state officers at all levels, be it Range Officers, ACFs or DCFs," he added.
Iqbal said it was the state officers and non-gazetted staff of the Forest Department who protects the forests in the state at the peak of turmoil while the direct IFS recruits fled to safer places.
"It was the local forest officials -- officers and other ranks -- who protected the green wealth of the state and 90 of them laid down their lives in the line of duty. Where were these IFS officers at that time?" he asked.
Iqbal said the only way out of the present "discriminatory" situation was that the state government create a parallel "Kashmir Forest Service" on the pattern of "Kashmir Administrative Service" that is in place for Civil Administration and Police departments.