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Posted by Susan Sharma on January 31, 2007

 

Maharashtra all set to induct women foresters

CHANDRAPUR: For 21-year-old Yogita Madavi, the steep climb of Tipagarh hills in the naxal-hit Gadchiroli last month was no mean feat. Physically challenged, this tribal girl wanted to prove a point. "My friends used to taunt by calling me a langdi. Every time they did so, I got more determined to prove my mettle some day. And I think I’ve done it," she says.

Yogita is one of the 11 successful girls who were recruited by the Maharashtra Forest Department last April after a written and physical test. She and her co-mates literally walked into what was hitherto a male bastion. "We walked 16 km in four hours on the trot to pass the physical test. All of us here passed the test at ease," the gutsy recruit says. “This is the first batch of women foresters in Maharashtra. And it’s doing very well,” said S P Wadaskar,  principal of Rangers Training College. Though a few other states have already recruited women cadres before, this is the first time in Maharashtra, he said. After a two-month training, the 11 women foresters would join work, the principal said.

Their responsibilities include everything from joint forest management to catching poachers and safeguarding wildlife.  They have to lead separate teams of guards to monitor the depleting jungle wealth.

Three of the 11 female recruits are married. Motivated by their husbands, all of them decided to join the department as foresters  post-marriage.  "It was my husband who motivated me to go for the test," said Seema Sherki nee Gore.

Last year, the forest department received 47,000 applications, including 7,000-odd from female aspirants for 36 vacant posts. Of them, 36,000 got short-listed for the preliminary examination.

About 520 got through for the mains, and finally only 33, including 11 women were selected, Wadaskar said. Amrapali Khobragade, one of the women recruits, says: "We are no less than men. And we are extremely anxious to prove that women can work even harder than men. This was, perhaps, the only field without women. There is no field left now where women haven’t countered risks and challenges successfully."

Source: DNA, January 21, 2007 

 

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