Mr. Dhamdhere Dhanraj Hanumant is an Indian Forest Service officer currently posted as DFO, Keonjhar (Keonjhar Forest Division) . He has pursued his Bachelors in Agriculture and completed his Masters in Genetics and Plant breeding from G.B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Uttar Pradesh. The Interview Times had a great conversation with him through Questionnaire. Below are the answers he responded to the questions.
Q1- Would you please like to share about your journey of clearing the IFS exam? How tough was it clearing the exam?
Answer – I had decided to enter into civil services during my Graduation (Bachelor of Agriculture) in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. But due to financial problems, I decided to go for Master in Agriculture through Junior Research Fellowship-ICAR so I could do Masters and financially help myself in UPSC preparation. I did my master’s in Genetics and plant breeding from G.B.Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar (Uttarakhand). But due to financial distress of family and major personal health issue I had to join Canara Bank (Asst. manager) at Fatehpur Sikri, Agra (UP) for almost 2 years. But after two years I had to resign and pursue my passion to become civil servant. It took me almost five years to get into IFS after appearing six interviews.The journey was very enjoyable and enriching though filled up with ups and downs only to make me very strong and determined.
Q2- You have been posted in Odisha, could please share your experience about it?
Answer – It’s a destiny and I always feel I had my past life connection with Odisha. I found people, food, nature homely. In very first posting, as a Range officer in Bantala range (Angul) and ACF (Angul) I could connect grass root people, understand Human-elephant conflict, decipher dependence of people on forest and livelihood interventions through AJY. This was the foundation my career in Odisha. As as DFO Nayagarh, with the support of people’s representatives, district administration and forest team many new works like Big polythene seedlings, transformation of nurseries, Mo Jungle Mo Parivesh, afforestation through various schemes especially Avenue plantation through MGNREGA, SMC works, Timber supply for Rath Yatra , special projects like Balangi Bandha, Urban plantation in Nayagarh Municipality etc have been accomplished. Few challenging raids in Dhusma and Badabanpur(kantilo) could be successfully acheived through support of police and district Administration.
I had memorable time in Nayagarh due to loving &caring people, supportive people’s representatives, strong support of police and district administration and dedicated forest staff.Q3- Currently you’re posted as the DFO of Keonjhar Forest Division, and in that division what are the steps taken to tackle Human-elephant conflict?
Answer – As a DFO Keonjhar, challenges are altogether different. Here is a critical responsibility of balancing sustainable mining and wildlife especially elephant conservation. Due to numerous hazards like mines, railway, road , electricity networks, expanding agriculture etc the interface/conflicts of elephants are increasing. Thermal drone is being used to monitor, treat and drive elephants. Early warning about elephant through text and voice message and miking is done to prevent damage to life and property.
National Highway Elephant squad at four critical elephant movement points is formed to avoid Elephant accident. Elephant Underpasses are being made functional through continuous cleaning and planting elephant food beneath it. Enrichment of elephant habitat through planting elephant food and water body creation in critical movement areas being taken up. Everyday Hazard analysis of elephant movement area from 2.00 pm to 8.00 pm is done to avoid unnatural elephant deaths. Monthly coordination meetings and daily real time communication is being done with railway, electricity and highways.
Prophylactic vaccination is done by veterinary with support of Forest dept to livestock in forest fringe villages to prevent wildlife especially elephant disease. “Grain bin” distribution is done to villagers facing highest house damage.Keeping rice in bin helps in stopping of release of smell of phenylacetaldehyde which generally attracts elephants for house damage.
Q4- What are the challenging part of your job you feel and how do you tackle difficulties?
Answer – Mitigation of Man-elephant conflict amidst shortage of front line staff (FG) is a most challenging work now a days as man-elephant interface is increasing exponentially which is very dynamic. It is being tackled on two fronts. As a long term measure habitat enrichment and people sensitisation along with elected representatives and media about wildlife issues is being done. As a short term measure solar and trench fencing, 24*7 monitoring, quick payment of compensation , entry point activities like distribution of solar street lights ,early warning etc is done.Q5- What are the steps initiated under your tenure as the DFO to increase the afforestation in your Division?
Answer – Compensatory afforestation against diversion of forest land is main schemes. Afforestation is also being taken through CAMPA, MGNREGA, AJY , DMF and CSR etc schemes. Distribution of seedlings (farmers,ecoclubs,schools, NGOs etc) to increase trees outside forest is also taken up on large scale through OMBADC and MGNREGA .
Q6- What is your take on the Philosophy Simple living high thinking ?
Answer – One should respect and give highest priority to karmbhumi. Commitment to work and integrity automatically brings simplicity. Strong faith and optimism despite himalayan challenges is the need of hour in present day socio-politico-adminatrative set up.
Photo Credit – Mr. Dhamdhere Dhanraj Hanumant
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