The Mamata Banerjee government is appointing more than 48,000 Aranya Bandhus (friends of the forest) to protect Bengal’s green cover. The Aranya Bandhus have been categorised as self-employed workers.
An Aranya Bandhu will be appointed for each panchayat. Those eligible for the post will have to be permanent residents of their respective gram panchayats.
The candidates, ideally aged between 21 years and 45 years, will also have to have a minimum qualification of a pass in madhyamik.
The primary job of the Aranya Bandhus will be to alert the forest department whenever a tree is felled.
The green guards will also organise campaigns for awareness on afforestation. They will act as a liaison between the people and the forest department and help resolve issues that require trees to be chopped off.
The forest guards will also ensure compensatory afforestation according to appropriate legal provisions if trees have to be felled for any unavoidable reason.
Functions of Aranya Bandhu
A government order related to appointment of the green guards says, “Engagement of Aranya Bandhu has been decided upon to facilitate afforestation.
To encourage afforestation in rural areas, engagement of local persons as Aranya Bandhu has been under active consideration of the forest department for some time.“
Other functions and responsibilities of the Aranya Bandhus will include raising and supplying quality planting materials (seedlings) to tree growers, forest department and panchayat bodies and to involve themselves in planting and maintenance of greeneries.
The Aranya Bandhus will approach range and beat officers for issuance of transit and other permits.