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Gurgaon forest conservator removed

Transferred to Chandigarh but given no posting, Haryana environment minister ‘not aware’

As the issue of mining on the foothills of Aravallis rages on, with one waterbody after another going dry in Faridabad and Gurgaon districts, the Haryana government on Friday transferred Conservator of Forest (south circle), Gurgaon, R P Balwan.

As per orders issued on Friday evening, Balwan has been transferred to Chandigarh, though without any immediate posting. The transfer order from the office of Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, M L Tayal, says Balwan would be posted at the “headquarters”.

Haryana minister for environment and forest Kiran Chaudhary, meanwhile, said she had “no knowledge” of the transfer order issued to Balwan.

“I was not consulted (about the transfer order),” Chaudhary said. “This is despite the fact that I have communicated to the government that no departmental transfers should be ordered without my consent.”

Incidentally, the Supreme Court had on September 9, 2008 ordered the Conservator of Forests to prepare maps of the Aravallis in the state. Balwan is part of the panel constituted by a special committee of the apex court that has been given the task of preparing the maps to know the extent of violation in forest areas, the latest position of forest land, and for future planning of land-use pattern.

The committee submitted its report on maps of Faridabad district and regarding violation of forest land on January 15. It is at present preparing the maps and report on Gurgaon district, which is to be submitted on March 15.

The verification of violations is carried out under the supervision of the conservator.

The order incidentally comes just two months before Balwan’s requested voluntary retirement. “My official retirement is due in 2018 but I have applied for voluntary retirement from May 30, 2009,” Balwan told Newsline. “I was not due for any transfer, because as per rules an official cannot be transferred in the last two years of his service.”

Asked the reason for seeking early retirement, Balwan said, “I have mentioned in my application that lynchpins in the system very powerful, and have hijacked the system.” He refused to comment when specifically asked whether he had received any threats. “It will be taken otherwise if I bring that issue to light now,” he said.

Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary (forests dept) P K Gupta remained unavailable for comments till late evening. M L Tayal, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, said he was busy in a meeting and could not talk when Newsline called him in the evening.




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