In an Interview with Mr. Nitish Kumar (IFS)

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Mr. Nitish Kumar is a 2014 batch Indian Forest Service officer and is presently designated as the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in Balangir Forest Division. He completed his schooling from JNV in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, and pursued his BTech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Karnataka. Following his graduation, he joined NTPC in July 2009 and worked there for two and a half years. In January 2012, he left his job to start his preparation for the civil services. The Interview Times had a conversation with him through a set of questions and below are his responses to the questions from The Interview Times –Q1. What motivated you to go for Indian Forest service? How was your journey of becoming an IFS officer?
Answer – Before joining this service, I was working in the NTPC. I was assigned the Maintenance planning department of the NTPC. During my tenure, I did many changes in the short-term maintenance plans of various equipment’s of the power plant, which improved the productivity and efficiency of the coal mills and other machinery. But somewhere I was not completely satisfied with the job profile.

Civil services always fascinated me and so, I started preparing for the Indian Forest Service exam as well as the Civil Services Exam. I first appeared in the Indian Forest Services-2012 exam, and I was able to get an interview call. But my final score was only 723 and the cut-off for the General category was 731. Hence, I appeared again next year and finally cleared the IFS-2013 exam and joined the Indian Forest Service as a 2014 Batch IFS Officer. Apart from it, I appeared in the Interview of the Civil Services Examination thrice continuously from the year 2012 to 2014.

Q2. If you get any free or leisure time, what is the most preferable thing you like to do in that time?

Answer – Listening to songs, watching movies, etc. are my favourite time pass.

Q3. Could you please tell us about the use of advance technologies that have been adopted by your division for management and conservation of forest and wildlife?A

Answer – I joined as DFO Kalahandi North Division on 20th December 2017 after completion of my foundation course at the MCRHRDI, Hyderabad. After joining as a DFO I observed that managing the Forest and Wildlife is a Herculean task as the tract of land is huge and the process of management is very complex. Hence, I started exploring the GIS and Drone technology to improve the efficiency and productivity of the Forest & Wildlife Management. I did a lot of research in the GIS and Drone technology during my tenure at the Kalahandi North and Bolangir Divisions. I have published a book also on the “Applications of GIS & Drone Technology in Forestry & Wildlife.” This book was launched by the Honorable Forest Minister, Shri Bikram Keshari Arukha in the presence of Additional Chief Secretary, Forest & Environment Dr. Mona Sharma, IAS and PCCF & HoFF Dr. Sandeep Tripathi, IFS during wildlife week-2019.

Q4. Can you please share about your involvement in introducing training and awareness programs for GIS & Drone Technology in the last few years?
Answer – I have provided training to more than 50 forest personnel on the Drone and GIS technology till date. I have taken classes on this topic at the OFRC, Angul also. Further, I have taken many online classes on the applications of the Drone and GIS Technology. I was invited as a guest lecturer to deliver a session on the topic “RS & GIS based Working Plan preparation-A case study from Odisha” at Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy on 10th March 2022 during the compulsory training of the IFS officers.

Q5. Would you please like to share any of your best memories from your work?
Answer – There are many memories from my work, like when my book “Applications of GIS & Drone Technology in Forestry & Wildlife” was published and when I was awarded the prestigious “Green Warrior award” by the NatWest Group.Q6. Could you please share us in details about some of the successful initiatives taken under your leadership as the DFO in your Division?

Answer – Soil and Moisture Conservation & Wildlife Habitat Management

In order to improve the wildlife habitat of the Kalahandi North and Bolangir Forest division, soil and moisture conservation was taken very extensively during 2018-2022 in all the Critical Wildlife Habitats. A target of more than Rupees Twenty Crores for Soil and Moisture Conservation was taken in the elephant habitat area. During the planning stage of the work, drone mapping was used extensively. Using drone technology, plant health, 3D, and elevation mapping was done. Based on the drone spatial data analysis and feedback from the field staff, type of the SMC treatment was finalized in the wildlife habitat. Various water bodies were also constructed after analysing the previous six years elephant movement data and elephant density mapping. For doing the fodder plantation within the elephant habitat, elephant density mapping was done using the elephant movement data of previous six years. And based on that data and forest cover change analysis using the QGIS software, sites were selected for enrichment of the habitat. These unique initiatives have helped in the increase of the elephant population in the Kalahandi North Division from 15 to 50. Many of the times in a year more than 70 nos. of elephants have been sighted in the Kalahandi North Forest Division.

Forest Fire Management

Forest fire is a major cause of wildlife habitat degradation, so in order to protect the environment and the natural resources of the Kalahandi North and Bolangir Forest Division, FIRE CONTROL RAPID RESPONSE SYSTEM was started in both the divisions. NASA is providing fire data from four satellite instruments which are – Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS, SNPP-VIIRS, and NOAA-20 (JPSS-1). But FSI is considering only the first three instruments. However, the fourth instrument is detecting more fire points which all of us are missing.
Kalahandi North and Bolangir Forest Division’s Fire control room under my direct supervision and guidance started analysing the fire related data from NOAA-20 Satellite directly from NASA as it was detecting many fire points which were not detected by the first three instruments. Data of all these four instruments are available in the public domain with a time lag of 3-4 hours after detection, which can be further minimized by subscribing to the fire email alert system of NASA’s FIRMS. This system is analysing fire points Beat wise, Section wise and Range wise. After that, topo image showing the location of the fire points are generated. All these interventions have continuously improved the forest fire scenarios in both the divisions. (No. of Kalahandi North Division’s Fire Points after my joining- Year 2017: – 1472, Year 2018: – 1096, Year 2019: – 895, Year 2020: – 297). After joining in the Bolangir Forest Division I took one more unique initiative of the Fire Lines mapping. All the Fire lines created during the 2023 fire season in the Bolangir Forest Division were finalized strategically by utilizing the GIS & Drone Technology after analysing the last 13 years fire data of the division. (No. of Bolangir Division’s Fire Points after my joining- Year 2021: – 1406, Year 2022: – 1190, Year 2023: – 493).

Eco-Tourism

Three Eco-Tourism sites (1. Green Mahanadi Van 2. Rabandar Waterfall Empire and 3. Konark Vigyan Van) have been developed by me in the Kalahandi North Forest division (Total Revenue Generated till date: – 50 Lakhs).

Further, ten Eco-Tourism sites (Bhiamadunguri Eco-Tourism, Gaikhai Eco-Tourism, Kumuda Pahad Park, Harishankar Deer Park, Kadlimunda Nagar Van, Punji Patthar Nagar Van, Kupla Nagar Van, Bijakhaman Nagar Vatika, Tusra Nagar Vatika, Rampur Nagar Vatika) have been developed by him in the Bolangir Forest division. Few of them will be completed by end of this year.

Innovative Steps

One app named as “Mo Sabuja Balangir” was launched recently to facilitate the seedlings distribution in the Bolangir district. Through this App, a person can order seedlings at their own comfort, and they will be intimated about the nearest nursery from where they can take such seedlings. Public can register their suggestions as well as complaints also, by utilizing this app. Besides enabling the general public to get their desired seedlings for planting in their own residential or farm land, it will create awareness and love for forests among the general public.

Under ‘Ama Jangala Yojana’  various logistics support and trainings have been provided to the VSS members in tailoring, Khalidana making, beauty parlor training, electrician work, bamboo handicrafts making, and other handcrafts. After these trainings all SHGs started preparing their products. Initially, they were selling their products in the local market, mela, and other available local platforms. To provide them with market linkage at the district level, a dedicated stall named “AMAR PASARA” has been established through a well-planned demand and supply chain. As many as 125 Self-Help Groups ( SHGs) have participated in the program and are producing a significant range of products. Amar Pasara stall management is collecting over 150 domestic products, including handicrafts and finished food and medicinal items, to create demand in the Bolangir town market by maintaining a robust demand and supply chain. The profits from this trade will be shared among every member of the SHGs involved in the process.

 

Photo Credit – Mr. Nitish Kumar

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