Bhubaneswar, Jan 21(UNI) Altogether 10,000 non-gazetted forest officers of Orissa today threatened to resign en masse if the government accorded the rank of Foresters to Village Forest Workers (VFW) ignoring pleas of the Orissa Non-Gazetted Forest Service Association(ONGFSA).
ONGFSA president Duryodhan Patra told newspersons here that the decision for mass resignation was taken at the executive committee of the Association recently.
Mr Patra said the decision was taken as despite repeated opposition by the Association and Supreme Court's direction not to include VFWs in the cadre, a move was on 'surreptitiously' to take 555 VFWs as foresters.
Mr Patra said earlier the state government had twice refused to include them in the cadre.
He said if the VFWs were taken as foresters it would seriously affect the promotion opportunities of thousands of forest guards.
Mr Patra said VFWs were recruited for implementation of the Swedish government-funded five-year social forestry project to meet the demands of villagers for fuel and other small needs.
After the project was closed the government, instead of retrenching the VFWs, engaged them to sensitise the people about the usefulness of forest.
But the VFWs were pressuring the government to take them as foresters, he said.
Mr Patra said though the workload of the non-gazetted forest officials went up manifold during the last few years, their posts had not not been increased accordingly.
The Association leader alleged that the number of officers had increased manifold.
He demanded the government increase the number of posts and fill up vacant ones immediately.
Around 400 posts of forest guards and 900 posts of foresters were lying vacant and promotion to higher posts had been stopped since 1973, he said.
UNI BD PL SB VC1525