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Daijiworld News Network - Goa

Margao, Aug 4:
The Goa Civic and Consumer Action Network (GOACAN) has submitted a proposal to the Chief Conservator of Forest that the Department makes a provision for a 24 hours, round-the-clock response to complaints and rescue requests by citizens to it.

The detailed proposal states that the Forest Department needs to clearly lay down the procedure it will follow in responding round the clock to rescue requests made by citizens from both districts of Goa.

The proposal comes in the wake of a series of incidents where the response by citizens to animals sighted in human settlement areas are in violation of the procedures and laws of the land. Insufficient information at the level of the village Panchayats & Municipal Council is causing unnecessary tensions among citizens resulting in unwarranted reactions.

In a number of cases involving monkeys, leopards, camels, snakes, elephants, birds, turtles and frogs it has been noted that citizens have found themselves on the wrong side of the law on the one hand and helpless on the other due to lack of information from the Department.

The Department must establish a Toll Free Helpline for the state of Goa or have 24 hour multi-purpose Helpline separately for North Goa and South Goa Districts which may not be Toll-Free at the beginning if the same is nottechnically feasible.

The multi-purpose help line for each district could cover complaints & responses to telephone calls of the following categories: i) Rescue / Response call for snakes found in residential areas that need to be removed. ii) Injured birds, animals and reptiles listed as protected that need to be rescued. iii) Complaints on harm done to turtles and interference with their nesting sites iv) In the monsoon season, complaints on killing of frogs .v) Complaints of illegal felling of trees. vi) Complaints against mining and environmental destruction of government and private forests.

The proposal also requests that the names of the District level nodal officers, the address of their offices and their phone numbers and e-mail address be given wide publicity in the Print media besides Radio and Cable TV. This information should also be publicised through the Departments of Tourism, Information & Publicity so that domestic and foreign tourist visiting the State can also benefit from these Help lines. All such requests & complaints be recorded and monitored and the action taken on each complaint be recorded for knowledge of the complainant and rescue caller.

GOACAN has made these suggestions & recommendations to the Forest Department in view of inadequate facilities available to provide an effective response to rescue calls & complaints. Moreover GOACAN has also received complaints in the past on poor, delayed responses and in some cases no response from the Department.

GOACAN has further stated that if pro active steps are being taken by the Forest Department then Consumer Forums at the village level would volunteer to provide suitable guidance to citizens in this regard.

GOACAN has demanded an urgent need for a sensitization program on the relevant Forest & Wildlife Laws for the village & taluka level authorities such as Panchayat Secretaries, Block Development Officers, Sub-Divisional Magistrates and Police Officers.


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