The forest department in Maharashtra will equip its guards with mobile-like devices to better monitor forest resources and deal effectively with offences.
About 2,000 guards will be provided these personal digital assistants (PDAs) within the next one month, after the devices were successfully tried out on a pilot basis over the past year, said Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary, forest department.
This high-tech initiative is routed through the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad. The system will enable the guards to record general information as well as offences like poaching and tree felling in forests or at plantations and send details to officials. There are about 8,000 forest guards in the state and they will all be equipped with this system within a couple of years.
With these devices the staff will be able to upload photographs of the site of the offence and provide the exact location using the global positioning system (GPS) available with the device.
“Through the PDAs we will also be able to monitor the activity of the guards and surveyors, whether they are actually patrolling the areas as they are supposed to upload information from their regions,” the official said. The official explained that the success of the pilot project had prompted the state to take this decision and the guards were being trained in the use of the devices.
“After studying the benefits from the use of the PDAs, the high-powered committee in charge of IT-related projects in the state approved the plan to equip all forest guards with the device,” the official said.
The PDA can be used to photograph forest plantations as well as recording the location of the plots for which ‘pattas’ are given to Adivasis.
It has been proposed that the guards purchase the PDAs according to the specifications laid down by the IT department. The guards will be reimbursed the cost of the device and the software to be used will be provided by the state.