Upright Bengaluru Forest Officer Ravindra Kumar, who was shunted out of his position as the Assistant Conservator of Forests- Bengaluru Urban, will be reinstated soon. This, in the wake of wildlife activists and volunteers threatening to hold protests over the unceremonious transfer order given to the officer.
While the transfer order was signed on October 5 by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Ravindra Kumar's replacement has not been asked to take charge, after Forest Minister R Shankar intervened.
Informed sources in the Forest Department told TNM that Ravindra Kumar was holding his previous post. Both him and his replacement have not been given any orders by their respective higher ups to take over their new postings. This was reportedly on the insistence of the Additional Chief Secretary and the Forest Minister. "However, the original transfer order is yet to be revoked," the source added.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy who heads the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms had ordered the transfer of the popular officer without mentioned a new posting. The news angered environmentalists who alleged the transfer was done at the behest of an MLA affected by the officer’s uprightness. Ravindra Kumar had recovered 130 acres of encroached forest land.
Those enraged by his transfer had also planned a protest march to the Town Hall on October 13. A Change.org petition was also initiated by activists seeking reinstatement of the officer.
Activists claimed that instead of honouring the officer with the Rajyotsava Award the state government was giving him a punishment order. Currently, he was in the process of recovering an additional 70 acres in Turahalli reserve forest and 45 acres in Anekal reserve forest, they said.
Speaking to TNM earlier, former forester Lakshminarayanan, who also worked as an ACF in Bengaluru North, had said, “He was saving the environment and had started a war against encroachment. There were a lot of issues but he fought against politicians, bureaucrats and muscle men alike.”
After the issue was highlighted in the media, BJP leaders joined the chorus with Rajajinagar MLA Suresh Kumar, Rajajinagar MLA, MPs PC Mohan and Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeting against the transfer.