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“Tackling forest fires is immediate priority”

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Dr Dhananjay Mohan takes charge as new Head of Forest Dept (HoFF)

By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 1 May: Seniormost IFS officer Dr Dhananjay Mohan has taken charge as the Head of the Forest Department (HoFF) and as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) of Uttarakhand, here, today. He has assumed charge as the Head of the Forest Force (HoFF) on an interim basis as of now, although he has been cleared by the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) held yesterday as the new PCCF and HoFF. He has succeeded Anup Malik who retired yesterday.

It may be recalled that, despite his selection as the new HoFF by the DPC, which also considered the names of senior IFS officers Vijay Kumar and Sameer Sinha, Dr Mohan has assumed charge on interim basis since his name is still to be cleared for permanent charge by the Election Commission of India in view of the nationwide Model Code of Conduct in force currently. Though the government had sought the approval in this regard from the Election Commission, the approval is still awaited. Till then, Dr Mohan will be acting HoFF.

Dhananjay Mohan, after taking charge of the department, described dealing with the raging forest fires in the state as the biggest challenge for the department and his most immediate priority.  He also listed as effectively dealing with the challenge posed by increasing human-wildlife conflicts and solving the problems of the employees as his other priorities.

As the new HoFF, Dr Dhananjay Mohan faces several major challenges. The biggest challenge at this time is forest fires. To deal with this, machinery from the department to the administration and government is deployed but so far the department has not been able to tackle this problem effectively. Dr Mohan realises this, and said that his major focus in the coming days for the time being will be on dealing with the forest fires. For this, he added as his priority to do maximum work on increasing people’s participation and cooperation. Dr Mohan said that human-wildlife conflict is also a big problem in the state and this, too, can be effectively tackled only by increasing the public awareness and connect with the forest among the common people.

Dr Mohan said that sincere efforts will be made to connect people with the forest as a long-term plan. The Forest Department will try to change the thinking of the people and bring about a change in the prevalent thinking that forests are solely the responsibility of the Forest Department. Mohan also added that resolving the problems of the employees is his priority. He said that Forest Guards, Foresters and Deputy Rangers are the frontline employees and officers of the department, hence full focus will be given to their problems. It will be his endeavour that whatever demands have been put forward from their side, would be effectively presented before the government and positive action taken on their demands.