DEVELOPMENTAL DEPARTMENTS

the FOREST DEPARTMENT.

FOREST.

Organisation.

THE HEAD OF THE FOREST DEPARTMENT OF THE STATE is the Chief conservator of Forests, whose headquarters is at Poona. The whole State is divided into five territorial Circles for administrative purposes, and at the head of each Circle is a Conservator of Forests.

The territorial Conservators have Divisional Forest Officers under them to look after the administration of divisions which are the Sub-Divisions of a Circle. These Divisional Forest Officers belong to the Maharashtra Forest Service, Class I. Each division is divided into small executive parts called "Ranges" and each range is managed by a Range Forest Officer under the direct control of the Divisional Forest Officer. The Range Forest Officer is a non-gazetted subordinate of Class III, who is usually trained at the Forest Colleges at Dehra Dun 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 Schools in the State. Finally, each round is sub-divided into ' Beats', and each beat is managed by a beat guard (or Forest Guard).

The Kolhapur Division which includes the Kolhapur district falls in Poona Circle and is held by the Divisional Forest Officer, Kolhapur. It comprises the former Kolhapur State area together with the feudatory Jahagirs and areas of Chandgad taluka of Belgaum district transferred to Kolhapur district, consequent to organisation of States. There are seven Range Forest Officers each in charge of a Range, with their headquarters as shown below. In addition, there are two independent Rounds directly under the Divisional Forest Officer, Kolhapur:-

Forest Organisation

      Name of the Range.

  Headquarters.

1. Karvir

Kolhapur.

2. Panhala

Panhala.

3. Bhudargad

Gargoti.

4. Vishalgad

Malkapur.

5. Ajra

Ajra.

6. Radhanagari

Radhanagari.

7. Bavada

Gaganbawada.

Under these seven Range Forest Officers there are 24 Round Officers (or Foresters) and 146 Beat Guards (or Forest Guards).

The two Independent Round Foresters have their headquarters at Chandgad and Patne.

The Revenue and Forest departments are closely interconnected in their work at a number of points. Deforestation, afforestation, rights and privileges, fixing of permit rates for minor forest produce, recovery of forest dues under Sections 82 and 85 of the Indian Forest Act, etc. Working plans (described later) for the management and development of forests are prepared solely by the Forest Department, but in so far as prescriptions of a working plan affect local supply and the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the tract, the approval of the Collector has to be obtained before it is submitted to Government by the Chief Conservator for sanction.

The Divisional Forest Officer is directly responsible for the protection, 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. He deals finally with forest offences, having power to compound the same. In short, he is responsible for forest administration and management in all matters relating to technical forest operations. However in regard to the subjects mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Divisional Forest Officer shall issue orders in consultation with and approval of the Collector. The Divisional Forest Officer is also expected to advise and give his opinion relating to all questions of technical nature in forestry, that may be referred to him by the Collector of the district.

The Assistant Conservator or Sub-Divisional Forest Officer assists the Divisional Forest Officer in the work of inspection and supervision. He has the same powers as the Divisional Forest Officer, except in matters of accounts. No such post exists at present (1957) in the Kolhapur Forest Division.

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, all works in his charge, such as the marking, reservation, girdling and felling of trees; the transport of timber, fuel, etc., to the sale depots; sowing, planting, tending and other silvicultural operations; construction of roads, buildings and wells; protection of forests and investigation of forest offences; supervision over removal of forest produce by purchasers and by holders of rights and privileges; and issue of passes and permits.

The Foresters' duties include protection of forests; detection and investigation of offences; issue of transit and other passes; collection of revenue from permits and compensation of offences; reservation of standard (i.e. the number and kind 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 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 main classes : ' 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 simply recorded and regulated. The forest areas of the Kolhapur Division are as under: -

Class of forests.

Areas.

Sq. Miles.

Acres.

Gunthas.

Bighas.

(1) Reserved forests

2,96,919

31

6

463.93

(2) Protected forests

18,334

14

0

129.27

(3) Leased forests

3,550

2

0

5.23

(4) Unclassed forests

369

4

0

0.58

All reserved forests in-charge of the Forest department are managed according to the prescriptions of "Working plans". A working plan is a document which lays down the detail of scientific management of a forest for a prescribed number of years. Before a working plan is drawn up, survey is made of the growing stock, at times by actual examination, and an analysis is made of the stems of standing trees to determine the rate of growth of the principal species with special reference 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. With a view to ensuring a sustained supply of forest produce exploitation is regulated as far as possible keeping the capital intact (growing stock). The preparation of working plans is done by the Divisional Forest Officer, Working Plans, Poona.

Functions of the Department.

The main functions of the Territorial Forest Division may be classed as under:-(1) regeneration and maintenance; (2) systems of management; (3) exploitation.

(1) Regeneration and Maintenance.

As an area is cut and tree growth removed, it is regenerated with fresh crop. This is the principal duty of a Forest Officer, since the basic principle of forest management, viz., sustained supply of forest products in perpetuity to the posterity, or removal of interest from mature crop leaving the forest capital intact for future generations, will entirely depend on the success of the regeneration work. Great care and precaution are required against damages by men, animals and plants, and against adverse climatic influences and other inanimate agencies. Damage by men is caused by (1) lighting of fires; (2) encroachments; (3) faulty exploitation methods; and (4) misuse of forest rights and privileges. Though occasionally forest fires may originate in natural causes, in the vast majority of cases they are due to human action, either within or without 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 wholehearted support and co-operation of the public is required. This co-operation is secured through the authority and influence of the village headmen. Precautionary measures like fire-tracing and early burning are also taken by the department in good times against accidental fires. Clearing of shruby 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 to. Offenders in respect of unauthorized grazing and protection from cattle are dealt with severely under the Forest Act and other laws. The total number of forest offences registered during the year 1956-57 is given below:-

Nature of offence.

Number of offences.

(1) Injury to forest by fire

50

(2) Unauthorized felling and removal of forest produce

438

(3) Unauthorised grazing

63

(4) Miscellaneous

314

Total

865

(2) System of Management and working Circles.

The working plan for Kolhapur Division has been recently revised and rewritten by the Divisional Forest Officer. As per Prescriptions of working plan, different silvicultural systems of management have been prescribed for different working circles:-

(i) Protection Working Circle.-Most of the hilly and steep area from the Western Ghats, which form the catchment area of important rivers are included in this working circle. With a view to protect the catchment area from heavy soil erosion, no exploitation is prescribed except that a Twenty-Year Regeneration Programme of Blanks is prescribed.

(ii) Fuel Working Circle.-The method of treatment suggested is "Light Improvement Fellings and Thinnings" coupled with artificial regeneration in patches with suitable fuel species. Tending operations such as weedings, cleanings and thinnings are undertaken by the department in coupes under prescriptions of the working plan.

(iii) Conversion Working Circle.-The system prescribed is of clear felling with reserves to be followed by artificial regeneration. The treatment will consist of gradual removal and replacement of present crop by one of more valuable and economically important species.

(iv) Teak Improvement Working Circle.-A system of modified clear felling in mature and deteriorated wood, with regeneration under a short rotation of 40 years is prescribed.

(v) Sandalwood Working Circle.-The method of treatment prescribed is "Improvement Fellings" in unsound stock combined with operations tending to give better growth conditions to the live and immature stock aided by artificial regeneration to replace the mature stuff removed.

(vi) Kuran Working Circle.-Development of fodder areas by improving conditions of soil and moisture, periodical closure by permitting cutting of grass only and reintroduction of fodder tree species.

(vii) Pasture Working Circle.-Development of pasture lands by introduction of rotational grazing schemes is envisaged here. In addition, in the closed ranch, the land improvement programme coupled with planting of fodder tree species is also prescribed.

(viii) Minor Forest Produce Working Circle.-This is an overlopping working circle. Systematic exploitation of minor forest produce like hirda, shikekai, bamboos, etc., is prescribed together with a programme of their propagation and tending.

(3) Exploitation.

Forest products are divided into two main classes, major and  minor. Major forest products comprise mainly wood, i.e., timber and fuel. All coupes due for working are advertised and sold annually either by tenders or by public auction. Penalties for breach of the contract terms as stipulated in the agreement are inflicted upon the defaulters. Normally exploitation is done by consumers and purchasers. Minor Forest produce in Kolhapur District are hirda, shikekai, grass, apta leaves, karanj-seed, sawar-cotton, watsol and amsol, etc. They are farmed out on a tenure of one year, three years or upto five years. Hirda is the chief commodity of minor forest products and the monopoly for collection of Hirda in the division has been given to Messrs. Amba Tannin and Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Kolhapur, at a royalty of Rs. 4-8-0 per ton on 10 years lease. The company have their factory at Amba, where hirda fruit is processed into solid tannin extract. which earns valuable foreign exchange. The company proposes to erect a powder plant next year, with a view to manufacturing "powdered tannin extract", which is in great demand in the foreign markets. The annual income from major forest products in 1956-57 was Rs. 65,759 for timber, Rs. 90,403 for fuel and Rs. 9,910-10-0 from sandalwood. The income from minor forest products during the same year was: bamboos: Rs. 156-10-0; grass and grazing: Rs. 13,302-10-0 and other minor forest products: Rs. 21,869-14-3. Thus the total income from all the forests in 1956-57 was Rs. 2,89,615.

Working Plans.

Working Plans.-A consolidated revised working plan for the forests of former Kolhapur State together with the feudatory Jahagirs was drawn up by the Divisional Forest Officer. The plan has been submitted to Government and is expected to be introduced shortly. The defects in the former plans have been eliminated and a regular attempt has been made to work the forests on a sustained yield principle in perpetuity, by providing a regular programme of artificial regeneration in the revised plan. Thus considerable progress has been made in trying to bring the management of the forests on a scientific footing, and on a sustained yield principle, taking into consideration the important objects of management such as conservation of soil and moisture, protection and reboisement of catchment areas with a view to ensuring perennial supply of water in wells, springs and in rivers both for irrigation and hydro-electric purposes and to prevent occurrence of floods, in addition, the needs of the local population, in respect of fodder for their cattle, firewood for burning with a view to diverting cow-dung from the hearth into the fields, timber for agricultural implements and constructional purposes and also the needs of wood based industries such a matchwood industry and tanning industry, etc. have also been adequately provided for.

Forest Settlement.

Forest Settlement.-During the ex-State regime, the forests were, no doubt, named reserved and protected forests but the detailed forest settlement procedure which is required to be followed in order to constitute legally an area into reserved or protected forests was not followed. To obviate this legal anomally, the post of a Forest Settlement Officer was created in 1954-55. So far (1956) the forest settlement reports in respect of Shirol, Hatkanangale, Panhala, Bawada and Ajra have been completed and submitted to Government. The settlement work of forests of Kolhapur district is expected to be completed by the middle of 1957.

Vanamahotsava and Fruit Tree Planting.

Vanamahotsava and Fruit Tree Planting.-Vanamahotsava or the festival of trees, which was first conceived by Shri. K. M. Munshi and given the status of a national festival is being observed every year with great fervour and enthusiasm. It has helped in impressing upon every individual the importance of forests to the nation, its varied uses and the urgent necessity of not only preserving the existing forests but also of expanding it by afforesting every bit of available land. Forest officers have played a significant part both by example and by precept, in the successful celebration of Vanamahotsava. The Kolhapur Forest Division has been supplying over 1 lakhs of seed and seedlings to Kolhapur district.

With a view to encouraging private individuals to take up fruit tree planting, special sanads for planting fruit trees are granted. The kaju fruit plantation raised in about eight acres from Tarale Protected Forest area has been a remarkable success. Prizes given to the successful planters serve as incentives.

Co-operation in Forestry.

Co-operation in Forestry.-The introduction of the forest labourers co-operative societies is a unique achievement of the Government. This system has eradicated the ruthless exploitation of the Adivasis and other forest labourers by the forest contractors and has greatly improved their living conditions. In short, the introduction of co-operation in forestry has brought about a great social change amongst the most backward and uncivilized section of the population.

There are in all five forest labourers co-operative societies, to whom coupes have been alloted in this Division. All the societies are working satisfactorily and their financial position has considerably improved.

Wild Life Preservation.

Wild Life Preservation.-In general, there is very little appreciation about the importance of wild life amongst the common man. With a view to making this subject popular and securing the co-operation of the public in preservation of wild life, Wild Life Preservation Week is being observed throughout India, since last year. The celebration of Wild Life Week has helped a good deal in inculcating popular interest in this subject, especially amongst the younger generations.

With a view to putting a stop to indiscriminate shooting and poaching, and to give adequate protection to wild life which is almost on the verge of extinction, the Bombay Government passed the Bombay Wild Animals and Wild Birds Protection Act, 1951. This Act is being administered by the Wild Life Preservation Officer, Poona, with the co-operation of the State Forest Department, Police department and the Revenue department. Though shooting of wild life without the requisite game licence is an offence under the Act, yet adequate provisions has been made to shoot wild life either in self-defence or when it becomes a menace to the public.

In keeping with the progressive policy of Government it is proposed to create a Game Sanctuary in Radhanagari, forest area. A comprehensive scheme for the sanctuary has been drawn up and submitted to Government.

Schemes under second Five Year Plan.

(i) Panhala Afforestation Scheme.-Main object of this scheme is to improve the scenic and aesthetic beauty of Panhala Hill Station and to improve the climatic conditions of the place and to make it an ideal hill station, a health resort and a picnic centre. It is proposed to afforest an area of 324 acres, 8 gunthas at a total cost of Rs. 10,227. The scheme is progressing well (1956-57) as per scheduled programme and has been a success, despite the initial setback due to want of co-operation from the local population.

(ii) Establishment of Wet Nurseries.-This scheme contemplates establishment of wet nurseries for providing robust seedlings for transplanting and stump planting in exploited coupes, afforestation schemes, and also for Vanamahotsava purposes. Two wet nurseries have been started in the Division, one at Panhala and the other in Radhanagari Range. Nurseries in other ranges will be established during the remaining period of the Second Five Year Plan.

(iii) Soil Conservation Demonstration Centre.-With a view to demonstrating to the public the importance of soil and moisture conservation and afforestation works, a demonstration plot has been opened over an area of 100 acres in Padali village.

(iv) Scheme for raising Agave Plantations.-This scheme is formulated to raise live hedges of Agave with the following objects: -

(1) To develop the potential source of raw material for cottage industry of rope making.

(2) To augment forest conservancy by keeping down fires and preventing cattle from encroaching upon closed area.

(3) To define boundaries of kurans and pasture lands for enforcing rotational grazing.

(4) To prevent soil erosion, 125 miles of forest boundary in this Division will be planted with the live hedge of Agave during Second Five-Year Plan, at a rate of 25 miles per year and at a cost of Rs. 200 per mile.

(v) Rehabilitation of Pasture Lands-Wire Fencing scheme to Grass Kurans.-It is a universally acknowledged fact that closure of grass kuran helps to improve the quality and to increase the quantity of grass, which could be recovered on cutting terms. To bring home the advantages of closure and subsequent increase of fodder, a scheme for wire fencing of important grass kurans in this Division has been drawn up. It is proposed to take up four kurans for wire fencing under this scheme.

Construction of Buildings.-With a view to provide forest subordinates with housing accommodation, it is proposed to construct seven quarters as per standard P. W. D. design, during the plan period.

Agri-silviculture.

Agrisilviculture.-Grants of blank areas in reserved forests are made on "agrisilvi" conditions on temporary tenure. Under this system villagers are encouraged to produce food crops along with plantation of tree species. In granting lands for cultivation under this system, preference is given first to landless agriculturists of the locality; secondly, to local agriculturists who do not possess an economic holding; and then to needy agriculturists of neighbouring villages. This method is found to be very useful in regenerating exploited coupes, at no cost to Government. However, care should be exercised in selection of good and reliable lessees, who would take care of the young plantation. In Chandgad taluka of this Division, this system has been successfully employed in raising good agrisilvi plantation in exploited coupes.

Relations with public.

The forest settlement of Kolhapur district is still in progress and the rights of the public have yet to be finally settled. However the following general privileges are sanctioned for this district by Government:-

(1) No one will be prohibited from drawing water obtainable in forest in cases where it is not procurable elsewhere within a reasonable distance.

(2) (a) No charge will be made under section 55, Land Revenue Code, for the provision of water for agricultural purposes from any stream, budki, bandhara, tank and all natural sources of water in forest areas on which no expenditure has been insurred by Government at any time.

(b) No fee will be levied when permission is granted for digging wells or channels in forest areas for agricultural purposes.

(c) Permission will be given freely for the clearance of choked up tanks and channels and for the removal of any forest growth obstructing the flow of water.

(3) Villagers having right of way to water through forest are entitled to a path 50 feet wide which they will be allowed to fence with thorns obtainable free of charge on application to the Divisional Forest Officer concerned. The villagers are also allowed to keep such paths free of all undergrowth.

(4) Free grazing in open forests under passes issued by the Revenue department, for village cattle (including sheep and goats where permitted) of forest and non-forest villages and non-village cattle, i.e., both cattle of professional graziers and cattle which do not remain in one village. This concession is subject to restrictions as regards admission as laid down in the grazing rules in force. (Cattle of other Provinces and Indian States are not entitled to this concession and will have to pay the fees prescribed in the grazing rules if admitted to graze in the forests of Maharashtra).

(5) No forest will be closed to grazing within a quarter of a mile of village site.

(6) Access to the grazing areas in the interior will be granted by the allotment of sufficiently wide short-cut approach roads. The short-cut cattle paths leading through closed forest to open forest will be marked by the Forest department in order to facilitate fencing by the villagers in the manner indicated in paragraph (3) above.

(7) Removal of stones and earth, from places approved by the Divisional Forest Officer, for the gatherer's own domestic or agricultural use.

(8) Removal of fallen leaves and grass for the gatherer's own bona-fide agricultural and domestic uses.

(9) (a) Removal from coupes under exploitation, before commencement of plantation operations therein

(b) of felled timber not useful to and therefore left by contractors, and

(c) of branchwood of felled trees of the size stipulated in contract agreements, for the gatherer's own domestic or agricultural use.

(10) In cases of destruction by fire of houses in forest areas timber of inferior species required for temporary huts will be made available with the utmost promtitude by the Range Forest Officer on production of a certificate from the Mamlatdar or Mahalkari concerned. The Umber of only such species as have been prescribed by the Conservator will be granted.

In addition to the above ten privileges, the following are the privileges granted to the villagers in the areas of this district. (Former Kolhapur district, excluding Jahagir areas):-

(1) Dry and fallen wood to be removed by head loads for domestic purposes.

(2) Rab material free to the extent of 25 head loads and thereafter on payment at one anna per head load.

(3) Free grants of timber or at scheduled rates are given to the poor and deserving persons.

Bawada Jahagir.-(1) Removal of dry, dead and fallen wood by the villagers free of charge by head loads.

(2) Free grant of timber to be given to poor and deserving people.

Vishalgad Jahagir.-Allowed to use the ways to the watering places and village temples in the forest area.

Ajra (Ichalkaranji Jahagir).-(1) Dry, dead and fallen wood to be removed by the villagers free of charge.

(2) Free grant of timber to be given to poor and deserving people.

In the administration of forests 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 Advisory Committee of District Rural Development Board" in this district. This Board deals with problems connected with the planting, allotment of grazing lands, improvement of grazing lands, the supply of various domestic, agricultural and individual needs, etc.

Roads and Buildings.

Roads and Buildings.-The maintenance of forest roads and buildings in this Division is done departmentally. There are Shikar roads extending to 95 miles in Radhanagari Range Besides, there is a Forest Rest House at Parle and also subordinates quarters at Patne.

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