The provision will allow the public to anonymously file complaints of illegal activities like tree felling, poaching and other violations.
These days, one frequently comes across stories about wild animals meeting a tragic end, after having unknowingly strayed into human habitations.
As there is very little information about who can be contacted for help in such a scenario, more often than not, city-dwellers or villagers, who have no prior experience, decide to take control of the situation. In doing so, they endanger not just their own lives but even that of the petrified animal.
What if there was a helpline number that one could contact in such situations and help report cases like that of a herd of elephants rampaging the crops, or a trapped leopard in a well?
Well, guess what, there will be one soon!
The Forest Department is planning to launch ‘1926′ a 24×7 national helpline, which will begin its operations on Republic Day. Besides complaints and queries regarding wild animals, one can also report instances like that of corrupt officials as well as ancient trees on the verge of falling.
According to The Hindu, Subhash K. Malkhede, who is the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance), is overseeing the setting up of the helpline and mentioned that the control room would be equipped with 30 lines to receive complaints and six individuals to man these.
Interestingly, in its 154-year-long history, this is the first time that the Forest department has set up a dedicated provision to allow the public to anonymously file complaints of illegal activities like tree felling, poaching and other violations.
Though the department had previously launched a toll-free number (1800-425-1314) as an experiment with two staff members in charge, the initiative was hardly productive.
“The 24×7 control room will be equipped with a dashboard so that information of officers, programmes and schemes, or even registration of complaints, can be taken from any caller from any part of the State. On the previous toll-free number, getting information about officers in rural areas was a problem,” Malkhede added.
The move was taken by the department after a similar model employed by Maharashtra’s forest department, which was set up last year, proved to be significant in shedding light to the internal corruption in the department, thanks to a tip-off.
“The helpline would complement a proposed wildlife crime control cell that will act as an intelligence and coordinating body between agencies such as forest mobile squads, police, and the CID’s wildlife crime cell,” said Punati Shridhar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife).