Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Daily Pioneer: Lucknow: Wednesday, June 13, 2018.
An application under Right to Information Act (RTI) exposed how an officer of Indian Forest Services (IFS) of Jammu and Kashmir cadre got himself deputed to Uttar Pradesh and later indulged in large scale illegal mining in forest areas in Bijnore.
After an enquiry set up against him following a RTI query revealed large scale illegal mining, departmental proceedings against the officer has been recommended and a charge-sheet was also handed over to him regarding his nefarious operations. However, so far no action was taken against the officer and only some of his junior colleagues were suspended.
State Information Commissioner (SIC), Hafiz Usman said that Praveen Kumar Raghav, an IFS officer of J & K cadre (Batch 2000) got himself transferred on deputation to UP and was posted as Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in Bijnore Forest Range, Najibabad.
Last year, a RTI application was filed against the officer that he was patronizing illegal mining in the forest range under his jurisdiction. Later the SIC ordered an enquiry into the matter by Forest Conservator of Moradabad.
The SIC further said that an on the spot enquiry was made along with the staff of Kaudiya Forest Range and it surfaced that in 3.50 kilometers length of Sukru river flowing through the forest, heavy mining of natural resources was done by the mafia. The probe team also found that besides taking out 1,50,675 square meters of stone, the mafia also mined sand and other material from the river banks illegally worth several crore of rupees.
After the shocking findings, Forest Conservator of Moradabad issued a show cause notice to Raghav seeking his explanation on illegal mining. However, Raghav did not deem it fit to file a reply.
Later the enquiry officer recommended departmental proceedings against the DFO and also stern action against him. Besides Raghav, action was also recommended against then Deputy Divisional Forest Officer, Harendra Singh, Forest Inspectors Komal Singh, Hridesh Singh and VK Goel, and Forest Ranger  Dinesh Kumar Goyal, as they too were found to be in cahoots. Komal Singh, Hridesh Singh and VK Goel were also suspended.
The SIC claimed that the charge sheet to the accused officials were issued more than six months back and they have been asked to reply within a fortnight. The SIC has also written to the Forest department brass on what further action was being taken.