Kendrapara: To tide over the piquant situation, officials of Bhitarkanika national park have urged a number of energetic youths from the fishermen community into service for undisturbed breeding of Olive Ridley Turtles along the 20 km- stretch of Gahirmatha-Devi river mouth coast.
"The scanty deployment at the disposal of forest department and the failing health of forest guards and foresters since prohibition on marine fishing activities on 1 November, have led the authorities to seek the service of local fishermen known for their expertise and efficiency.", officials said.
According to official sources the combined average age of the forest staff is more than 50 and they are on the wrong side to face the rigour of the job in hostile sea-waters.
Its really a tough task to send the aged staff, who are on the verge of retirement to a highly strenuous job like sea patrolling. Besides we have 29 forest guards against the sanctioned strength of 53 to patrol such vast water body., officials said.
"Over 40 local fishermen within the age group of 25-40 were recruited on a contractual basis last fortnight to tide over the situation that the forest department finds itself in.", a forest official said.
Their job would be temporary and their contract would be terminated once the mass nesting phenomenon of the turtles comes to an end by March or April 2008.
The crux of the problem is that the department is left with no alternative to deal with the scenario as the it is already heavily under-staffed. "The repeated pleato fill up the 24 vacancies of the forest staff in Bhitarkanika has so far gone unheeded.", an official said.