Forest officers' transfer raises eyebrows; Mohali DFO retained : The Tribune India

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Forest officers' transfer raises eyebrows; Mohali DFO retained

Forest officers' transfer raises eyebrows; Mohali DFO retained

Lal Chand Kataruchak, Forest Minister

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1

The large-scale transfer of forest officers by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has raised many eyebrows, as the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Mohali, who is under scanner in connection with the alleged sale of farmhouses, has been retained whereas officers probing his case have been shunted out.

WWICS senior Director Davinder Singh Sandhu recently complained on the anti-corruption helpline against DFO Guramanpreet Singh and submitted a purported video sting, in which the forest officer could be heard facilitating the sale of farmhouses near Mohali’s Masol village.

Minister defends official

Transferring the DFO would have sent a wrong signal as he is taking on the realtor who was illegally carving out farmhouses in Mohali. —Lal Chand Kataruchak, Forest minister

Subsequently, the government asked Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Hills, Mahavir Singh to submit a report on Sandhu’s allegation.

The CCF (Hills) had written to the DIG, Cycler Cell, Punjab Police, to forensically examine the video after the DFO claimed it was a doctored video.

In the latest transfer orders of forest officers, Mahavir Kumar has been shifted as the CCF (Working Plan), while Indian Forest Service officer Bansta Raj Kumar joins in his place.

Another IFS officer Harsh Kumar, who was working as the CCF (Hills) after the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) ordered status quo on his posting, has also been transferred as the Director, State Forests Research Institute, Laddowal.

Harsh Kumar, who was also probing the video sting case, had written to the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Forests, to transfer the DFO so that fair probe could be carried.

Defending the transfers, Forest Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak said the decision had been taken after due consideration.

On DFO Guramanpreet, the minister said his services were required for some important projects and transferring him out would have sent a wrong signal as he was taking on the realtor who was illegally carving out farmhouses.

Meanwhile, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF, Wildlife) RK Mishra — the senior-most IFS officer in the department — has been transferred as MD, Punjab Forest Corporation. For the past eight months, Mishra has been awaiting the departmental promotion committee (DPC) meeting that will decide his appointment as the PCCF, Head of Forest Force (HOFF).

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