RITURAJ BORTHAKUR GUWAHATI, March 8 - Breaking gender barriers and stereotypes, a woman Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer has been fighting a relentless battle to protect the state’s flora and fauna.Meet 2012-batch IFS officer Davinder Suman, who hails from Hoshiarpur in Punjab and who has been serving as the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Sonitpur West division since 2016. Davinder has been at the forefront in every action – whether it is chasing marauding elephants, catching forest produce transported illegally or planting trees.
Consider these statistics: The Sonitpur West division of the forest department has registered the highest number of forest offences this year at 446. The division also realised the maximum amount of revenue at the state level.
Davinder has also been instrumental in seizing 443 vehicles this year, by far the highest in the Northern circle. Not to mention that it was despite pressure from adversaries.
In a division where the number of forest cases has never crossed the 100-mark, the figure reached 243 in 2016-17 and 446 this year. Altogether 240 vehicles laden with illegal forest produce were seized last year – the number of vehicles seized had also never crossed the 100-mark in the division till she took over.
Davinder credits the achievement to team work, and support from seniors and the administration.
Conservator of Forests (North) P Shiv Kumar said that during Davinder’s tenure, Sonitpur West has achieved remarkable progress in forest protection, nursery and plantation (over 2.5 lakh seedlings this year), revenue generation and infrastructure development.
“She has sincerely implemented the government’s instructions. This division is known for man-animal conflicts, bordering with Kaziranga, Nameri, Orang, Sonai Rupai and Burhachapori wildlife areas. She has also helped improve interpersonal relationship among various departments,” the conservator said.
Shiv Kumar said that people having vested interests were trying to collect minor minerals from protected areas or eco-sensitive zone areas. “She is trying to control illegal mining activities. While stone requirements are being fulfilled from Arunachal, BTAD and Karbi Anglong, Davinder also opened seven sand and silt mahals in addition to the existing mahals to meet the public demand,” he said.
Wildlife activist Saurav Borkataki has never seen a woman officer moving with forest guards till late night hours to chase wild elephants. “While even range officers sometimes are not seen in the field, the trailbrazer DFO is always with the guards and at the forefront till the job is done. When the public sees a lady officer, they also are at ease and cooperate in a better way,” Borkataki said.