DEVELOPMENTAL DEPARTMENTS

FOREST DEPARTMENT

FOREST. Organisation.

THE HEAD OF THE FOREST DEPARTMENT IN THE STATE is the Chief Conservator of Forests, whose headquarters are at Poona. There is also a Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests at Poona, who assists the Chief Conservator in his work. For administrative purposes, the whole State is divided into five ' Circles ' as shown below:-

Circle.

Head Quarters.

(1) Poona Circle.

Poona.

(2) Nasik Circle.

Nasik.

(3) Amravati Circle.

Amravati.

(4) Nagpur Circle.

Nagpur.

(5) Bombay Circle.

Bombay.

At the head of each Circle is a Conservator of Forests.

The Conservators have under them Divisional Forest Officers and Sub-Divisional Forest Officers to look after the administration of Divisions and independent Sub-Divisions respectively. The Divisional Forest Officers belong to Maharashtra Forest Service, Class I; and the Sub-Divisional Forest Officers in charge of independent Sub-Divisions to M. F. S., Class II. Some Divisions are divided into sub-Divisions which are in charge of Sub-Divisional Forest Officers who belong to Maharashtra Forest Service, Class II and unlike the Sub-Divisional Forest Officers in charge of independent Sub-Divisions they are under the control of the Divisional Forest Officers. The Divisions or Sub-Divisions, are divided into small executive parts called ' Ranges' and each Range is managed by a Range Forest Officer under the control of the Divisional Forest Officer or Sub-Divisional Forest Officer as the case may be. The Range Forest Officer is a non-gazetted subordinate officer (Class III) who is usually trained at one of the Forest Colleges in India i.e., those at DehraDun and Coimbatore. Each Range is sub-divided into ' Rounds' and each ' Round' is managed by a Round Officer or Forester, who is usually trained at the Forest Classes in the State; each Round is sub- divided into ' Beats' and each Beat is managed by a Beat Guard.

The Sawantwadi Forest Sub-Division and part of Janjira Forest Sub-Division falling under Bombay Circle are held by the Sub-Divisional Forest Officer, Sawantwadi and Janjira. Administratively, Janjira forms part of Kolaba district. The following are the Ranges in the Sawantwadi Sub-Division and part of Janjira Sub-Division:-

Name of the Sub-Division.

Name of Range.

Headquarters.

Sawantwadi

Sawantwadi

Sawantwadi.

Kudal

Kudal.

Kankavli

Kankavli.

Janjira

Mahad

Mahad.

Forest Area.

The total area of Government Forests of Sawantwadi, and Janjira Sub-Divisions is 60.91 square miles, details of which are given below:-

 

Protected Forests.

Reserved Forests.

Sawantwadi Sub-Division

3.21 square miles

53.98 square miles.

Janjira Sub-Division

--

3.72 square miles.

Total

3.21 square miles.

57.70 square miles.

The forests in these Sub-Divisions are scattered in small pockets. In Ratnagiri district the majority of the forests are owned by Malkidars or Inamdars and the extent of Government forest is very little. A scheme to acquire Malki forests is under operation and by the end of Second Five-Year Plan about 26,742 acres have been acquired by paying compensation.

The forest area in Ratnagiri lies within 15-37' and 16-18' north latitude and 73-30' and 74-15' east longitude. To its north lies Kankavli mahal and to the east parts of Kolhapur and Belgaum collectorates. It is bounded by the Goa territory on its south and Vengurla mahal is on its west.

The annual rainfall in the various parts of the tract is very heavy and varies from 120" to 200" being heaviest along the top ridge line of the Sahyadris and it decreases as the elevation drops.

Due to heavy rainfall, the vegetation is luxuriant and falls into two distinct climatic formations, viz., (1) Bombay sub-tropical evergreen forest and (ii) South Indian tropical moist deciduous forests.

Species.

The species found in sub-tropical evergreen forests are Anjani (Mmnecylon edule), Hirda (Terminalia chebula), Amba (Mangifera Indica), Shendri (Mallotus philippinensis) with understorey of Parajambhul (Clea dioica), Dinda (Leea Macrophylla), Tamalpatra (Cinna momum tamala) etc., At many places canes are also noticed. Some of these areas have been saved from over-exploitation by virtue of maintenance as " Shikar forest" in the old state regime. Most of these forests are on Amboli plateau which is at an altitude of about 3,000'. These forests impart special importance to the Amboli plateau and ghat area for their aesthetic value. These forests are covered by regular working plan and are mostly exploited for firewood and other minor forest produce.

In South Indian tropical moist deciduous forests, the most characteristic species is Teak (Tectona grandis) associated with Ain (Terminalia tomentosa), Kinjal (Terminalia paniculata) Siddum (Tetrameles nudiflora), Koshimb (Scleichera oleosa), Kanai (Albizzia procera), Sawar (Salmalia malabarica), etc., and Satwin (Alstonia scholaris), Bibla (pterocarpus marsupium), Amba (Mangifera indica), Phanas (Artocarpus integrifolia), Shisham (Dalbergia latifolia), Kokum (Garcinia indica), etc., in middle storey.

These forests are worked under a regular working scheme and bring the major part of revenue.

On the abolition of the Research and Working Plan Circle, in the new set-up of re-organised Bombay Circle, there is one Working Plan Divisional Forest Officer between two Circles viz. Bombay Circle and Nasik Circle with headquarters at Nasik. Accordingly the Working Plans Officer at Nasik has jurisdiction over the forests of this Sub-Division.

The Revenue and Forest Departments are closely interconnected in their work. Afforestation and disafforestation are practically joint functions of the Revenue and Forest Departments, since public rights in the lands proposed for afforestation have to be settled by the Revenue Department. Working Plans (described later) for the management and development of forests are prepared solely by the Forest department, but in so far as the prescriptions of a Working Plan affect local supply and the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the tracts, the approval of the Collector concerned has to be obtained before it is submitted to Government by the Chief Conservator of Forests for sanction.

The Divisional Forest Officer is directly responsible for the exploitation and regeneration of the forests according to sanctioned working plans and other orders. He conducts sales, enters into contracts, supplies material to departments and the public, realises revenue and controls expenditure under instructions from the Conservator of Forests.

He also deals with forest offence cases, having power to compound the same. In short, he is responsible for forest administration and management in all matters relating to technical forest operations.

The duties of the Sub-Divisional Forest Officer in charge of an independent Sub-Division are exactly the same as those of the Divisional Forest Officer, while the Assistant Conservator or Sub-Divisional Forest Officer, attached to a division assists the Divisional Forest Officer in the work of inspection and supervision of various kinds of silvicultural works requiring technical knowledge, besides attending to other duties entrusted by the Divisional Forest Officer. The headquarters of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Sawantwadi Sub-Division are at Sawantwadi.

The Range Forest Officer is in executive charge of his range. He is responsible for carrying out, with the help of his Round Officers and Beat Guards, and according to the orders of the Divisional Forest Officer or the Assistant Conservator or Sub-Divisional Forest Officer, all work in his charge, such as marking, reservation, girdling and felling of trees; transport of timber, fuel, etc., to the sale depots; sowing, planting, tending and other silvicultural operations; construction of roads, buildings and wells according to sanctioned plans and estimates; protection of forests and investigation of forest offences; supervision on removal of forest produce by purchasers and by holders of rights and privileges; and issue of forest transit passes and permits.

The Foresters' duties include protection of forests; detection and investigation of offences; issue of forest transit passes and permits; collection of revenue from permits and compensation in offences; preservation of standards (i.e., the number and land of trees prescribed for preservation and the manner of cutting etc.) in coupes given out to contractors for cutting; inspection and protection of forests; and guidance to and supervision of forest guards. The Forest Guard's functions are to patrol and protect all forests in his beat; repair and maintain forest boundary marks; execute silvicultural works, viz. sowing, planting and creeper-cutting; and detect forest offences.

Classification of Forests: Working Plans.

Under the Indian Forest Act (XVI of 1927), forests are divided into two categories, "reserved" and "protected". Before forests are classified, they have to be subjected to regular settlement by a Forest Settlement Officer, who enquires into the existence of all public and private rights. In the case of reserved forests, the existing rights are either settled, transferred or commuted. In the case of protected forests, the rights are clearly recorded and regulated. In this Sub-Division there are reserved as well as protected forests as stated before and they are organised and managed according to the prescriptions of the revised " Working Plan ". A Working Plan is a document which lays down the details of scientific management of a forest for a prescribed number of years. Before a working plan is drawn up, a survey is made of the growing stock, at times by actual enumeration, and an analysis is made from the stems of standing trees to determine the rate of growth of the principal species with special references to the soil and the climatic conditions of each locality. On the basis of the data thus collected, plans are drawn up for felling, regeneration, silvicultural treatment and protection of forests with provision for the due exercise of the rights and privileges of the people, including grazing of cattle. The preparation of the Working Plan for this Sub-Division has been done by the Divisional Forest Officer, Working Plans, Central Circle.

Functions of the Department.

The main functions of the Forest Department are exploitation, regeneration, and protection of forests according to sanctioned Working Plans and other orders, and the conduct of sales, entering into contracts and supply of material to Government departments and the public. The salient aspects of the functions are described below:-

(1) Regeneration and Maintenance.

(1) Regeneration and Maintenance.- As the area is cut and tree growth removed, it is regenerated with fresh crop. The principal duty of a forest officer is the protection of the forests in his charge. Great care and precaution are required against damages by man, animals, and insects and other pests and against adverse climatic influences and other inanimate agencies. Damage by man is caused by: (1) lighting of fires, (2) encroachments, (3) faulty exploitation methods, including illicit cuttings and (4) misuse of forest rights and privileges. Though occasionally forest fires may originate from natural causes, in the vast majority of cases they are due to human action, either within or outside the forest. The most frequent cause is carelessness or recklessness and sometimes illicit shikar, but occasionally there is incendiarism. To prevent damage by fire, the whole-hearted support and co-operation of the public are required. This co-operation is secured through the authority and influence of the village patil or headman. Precautionary measures like fire-tracing and quick putting out of fire are also taken by the department in good time against accidental fires. Clearing of shrubby growth along the roads and paths is also done to avert any fire spreading in the forest. Rigid patrolling and vigilant watch against unauthorised felling and removal of forest produce by the villagers are resorted lo. Offenders in respect of unauthorised grazing and other damage from cattle are dealt with severely under the Forest Act and other laws.

(2) Systems of Management. Protection of Working Circle.

(2) System of Management.-The area under the management of the department in the district is-worked under the various silvicultural systems like clear felling, selection-cum-improvement felling, etc. The whole area of this Sub-Division has been grouped into four working circles. Prescriptions for each are as under:-

This working circle includes forests of Amboli plateau, ghat and the precipitous hill slopes. The functions of the foresters falling under this working circle are to improve and maintain adequate cover over steep areas for conservation of soil and moisture and to realise physical, climatic and aesthetic benefits, to meet the demands for fuel, to give minor forest produce, etc. Therefore, the prescriptions for these forests are light improvement fellings in the overwood, supplemented by similar light thinning (if necessary) in congested patches of the underwood. Planting in natural blanks of Mango, Kaju, Phanas and other fruit trees and other species like Hirda, Suru, Shikekai, etc. is prescribed. The forests will be worked on a felling cycle of 15 years.

Teak Timber working Circle.

This includes most of the areas bearing Teak. These areas are worked under "the selection-cum-improvement" system with clear felling of 15 acres on gentler slopes or flat portions. In selection-cum-improvement areas, large gaps of 66' X 66' are to be planted up with economic species like Sawar, Kumkum, Khair, etc. Clear felled patches are to be regenerated artificially with teak and other valuable species like Sawar, Shisham and Tiwas at an espacement of 6' X 6' except Sawar for which 9' X 9' distance is prescribed.

Teak Pole Working Circle.

This includes the areas holding mixed growth of teak and injaili species which have suffered very badly due to illicit cutting, theft, fire, etc. These areas are tackled under improvement fellings with a planting scheme on flatter areas in about one fourth part of the coupe with teak and valuable injaili species. A rotation of 100 years has been prescribed for these areas too with a felling cycle of 20 years.

There are plently of privately owned forests which have been ruthlessly exploited and many of the areas have been ruined. In order to restore the potentialities of these areas in time, acquisition of such areas to the extent of 50,000 acres is under progress. Afforestation of such acquired areas has been started.

Other privately owned areas where indiscriminate fellings are noticed, are being brought under the regulation of section 35 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

The exploited areas in the reserved forests are afforested either departmentally or on Agri-silvi condition as per availability of labour. In Agri-silvi system, the villagers raise food crops along with plantations of tree species.

Exploitation.

The forest produce is divided into two main classes, major and minor. The chief forest produce is timber, firewood and charcoal. The major portion of these is exported either to Kolhapur or Belgaum and other areas as local demand is not heavy. The chief minor forest produce are Apta and Temburni leaves, hirda, kaju, amba, tamalpatra, etc.

The major forest produce is derived out of coupes due for working. it is then advertised for sale and sold by tenders or by public auction. The minor forest produce is either farmed out or sold on permits.

The annual income from major forest produce in Sawantwadi Sub-Division in the year 1957-58, was Rs. 1,03,394.24 nP. from timber and Rs. 3,046 from firewood.

The income from minor forest produce in the same year was Rs. 8,549.88 nP.

The total income for the Sub-Division for the same year from all sources was Rs. 1,14,990.12 nP. and the total expenditure was Rs. 93,589.35 nP.

Forest Roads.

There are no roads maintained by the Forest Department in this Sub-Division. The contractors prepare temporary roads and cart tracts during the lease period of the contract.

Relations with People.

Relations with People.-Under the Government of Bombay, Agriculture and Forest Department's Resolution No. 5898, dated 21st September 1953, the people are granted rights and privileges to graze cattle in open forests, to remove dead and fallen wood for domestic consumption, to remove fallen leaves and dead material for burning rab and right of way to temples, water springs, etc.

In the application of forest rights and privileges and in the work of forest protection and exploitation, the officials of the Forest department come into direct contact with the people. A direct link between the people and the department has been established by the appointment of a " Forest and Grazing Committee " by the District Development Board. This Board deals with problems connected with forest policy, reafforestation, tree planting, allotment of grazing lands, improvement of grazing lands, etc.

Vana Mahotsava.

Vana Mahotsava.-The Government of India inaugurated in 1950, an important function called Vana Mahotsava to be celebrated every year in the first week of July. The object is to convey the importance of forests to the nation and to encourage the planting of as many trees as possible at suitable places. To supply free seedlings to public and other departments for planting during annual Vana Mahotsava, nurseries have been established at Sawantwadi, Padwe-Majgaon and Ratnagiri, where seedlings of various ornamental, fast growing trees and economical species are raised.

Wild Life Week.

Wild Life Week.-In order to put a stop to wanton destruction of wild life, the Government of India has started celebrating the Wild Life Week from the year 1956. The week is celebrated during October. The object is to convey to the people the importance of wild life in nature's balance.

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