Assam Forest Department, which is the custodian of priceless wild flora and fauna, has turned into a ‘trading house’ for transfer of officials.

As Assam is bound for elections, routine transfer of forest officials are on cards, and the Environment and Forest Department, had prepared a notification (Memo No. FRE.79/2011/83-M), and it was scheduled to be signed on January 20 by M. Baruah (Sen), secretary of the department.

The notification of the transfer of 12 Assam Forest Department officials of the rank of Divisional Forest Officers (DFO) was seen in circulation on social media platforms before it was signed by M. Baruah (Sen).

Friends, family members and colleagues even called up the Forest officials and congratulated them for the transfers.

Some of the officials had reportedly had ‘campaigned’ with powerful people in the corridors of power in Dispur for ‘prime postings’.

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And, the unsigned notification was a clear reflection of the reports of ‘inducement’ behind the preparation of the list of transfer of DFO-rank officials across Assam.

Left totally red-faced, the Environment and Forest Department had to withdraw the unsigned notification (Memo No. FRE.79/2011/83-M, dated January 20) because it was a cause of ‘big shame’ during the run up to the election.

Now, a section of Forest Department officials are back in the phase of ‘negotiations’ with ‘powerful people’ in the corridors of power in Dispur to ensure transfer to ‘lucrative’ positions.

The fresh notification for transfer of about a dozen Assam Forest officials of the rank of DFOs is likely to be issued on or before February 20.

Tejas Mariswamy, the Divisional Forest Officer of the Assam State Zoo, who is caught in a controversy over transfer of two Black Panthers to Mukesh Ambani’s private zoo at Jamnagar in Gujarat, is likely to be transferred to Barak Valley and will be given the responsibility of DFO (Territorial).

Posting as a DFO (Territorial) is always described as a ‘lucrative’ position in the Assam Forest Department as the officer on the position has direct control over timber, the stone quarries and other minor mineral mahals including sand.

While Assam Forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya is portrayed as the ‘cleanest politician’, the reports of Assam Forest Department turning a ‘trading house’ of transfers, has tarnished his political image.

Despite repeated attempts by this reporter, Parimal Suklabaidya was not available for comments on the allegations.

A large number of Assam Forest Department officials are often involved in corrupt practices, and the sleuths of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department even arrested some of them in the recent past.

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