Rajahmundry: The long-pending demand of foresters to have weapons and also get trained on their use so that they can effectively discharge their duties and protect forest wealth and wildlife, is going to be fulfilled very soon in the state.
The AP Forest Academy is getting ready to work out modalities to provide training on how to use a weapon like the .303 rifle with the police department.
The academy plans to train forest section officers and forest beat officers as they are the field officers in the department who are mainly entrusted with the task of protection and conservation of forest wealth and wild-life by physically inspecting the forest area under their jurisdiction of control on a day-to-day basis.
The police department has a firing range at Ram-esampeta of Rangampeta mandal in East Godavari where its personnel undergo regular training on firing of weapons. Forest authorities expect their personnel to also undergo training of use of weapons at the same facility as they are planning to hold talks with the top br-ass of the police department.
Forest authorities say that once their field personnel are trained on the use of weapons, they will be given weapons as soon as the state government procures a specific type of weapon.
They are also preparing the schedule for training sessions on weapons. Accordingly, both FSOs and FBOs will be busy from Monday to Saturday in a week attending both theory and practical classes at the academy from morning to evening.
Foresters say that this has been a long pending demand as they are vuln-erable to attack by smugglers, poachers and at ti-mes even civilians who encroach into forest land to involve in anti-social and illegal activities. In August, a forest officer was beaten up by a gang of six men when he objec-ted to their drinking liqu-or at Sunnipenta in the Nallamala Tiger Reserve area in Kurnool district. He was forced to bow and apologise to them to ensu-re a stop to the beating.
Several forest personnel have suffered severe injuries while some have even lost their lives when they were attacked by smugglers of red sanders in Tirupati and other areas earlier.
AP Forest Academy deputy director M.V. Prasada Rao said, “We plan to provide weapon training to forest personnel like FSOs and FBOs by taking support from the police department so that our staff become bolder and confident to handle smugglers, poachers and other anti-social elements who intend to plunder forest wealth and poach wild animals in the forests.”...