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Range, and two other assistants were appointed in the following year.
The Conservator and his assistants spent the year 1864-5 in making themselves acquainted with the large districts under their charge, in framing new Rules and establishing office procedure. So that little in the way of real forest administration was carried out before the close of the period here dealt with.
On the expiration of his furlough at home Cleghorn returned to India in November, 1861, and was sent to the Punjab to report on the forests of the Western Himalaya, as will be elsewhere described.
In January, 1864, he was associated with Brandis, who had been summoned from Burma in October, 1862, to advise the Government of India in the general organisation of forest administration. On Brandis' recommendation Cleghorn was placed on deputation to assist in this work, a signal recognition of his good work in organising the department in Madras. Cleghorn remained in this capacity till March, 1865. Whilst still on deputation in the Punjab Forests, Brandis and Cleghorn had drawn up in August, 1863, a joint Memorandum submitted to the Government of Madras, on the subject of the forests of that Presidency. The Memorandum urged the necessity of the early demarcation of the Government and village forests of Madras. These proposals were not, however, at the time approved of by the Madras Government. In spite of the persistent representations subsequently made on the same subject by the Government of India, no adequate action was made in Madras towards effecting a separation of the various rights and interests in the public forests and waste lands until the Madras Forest Act was passed in 1882.
Cleghorn laid the first foundation of an effective system of Forest Conservancy in Mysore and Madras, as was publicly acknowledged by Brandis, at a time when Forestry was very little known in India. A public Resolution by the Government of India of oth January, 1865, justly designated Cleghorn as the “Founder of Forest Conservancy in India," and added : “His long services from the first organisation of Forest management in Madras have without question greatly conduced to the public good in this branch of the administration; and in the Punjab also Dr. Cleghorn's labours have prepared the way for the establishment of an efficient system of conservancy and working of the forests of that Province."]
THE INITIATION OF FOREST CONSERVANCY IN THE BOMBAY
PRESIDENCY AND SIND, 1858–1864
HE history of the attempts made to introduce some
form of Forest Conservancy for the protection and amelioration of the forests of the Bombay Presidency
from 1838 onwards, has been traced in previous chapters. The aims of the Government, as laid down on paper, should, had they been given practical effect to, have achieved a considerable improvement in the management of the forests. Their Conservator, Gibson, was able to make some progress.
He appears to have confined his energies, during the ten years he held the post of Conservator, to three main objects, and his tours in the forests seem to have been undertaken to attain them. These were the prohibition, so far as possible, of Kumri cultivation, in which we have seen that by 1859 the practice had been very nearly stopped in the forests of the Presidency. In Belgaum the following Rules had been introduced : ist, Kumri cultivation is absolutely prohibited, except within four miles of the ridge of the Gháts in the Bidi taluk, and within two miles of the ridge in the Padshapur taluk. 2nd, Within the said limits, no timber trees, whether
. large or small, are to be cut down for clearing Kumris, and no ground within the said limits is to be cleared for Kumri without the written permission of the district officers. In the Dharwar Collectorate the practice was said to have been entirely stopped. Gibson's second object was to institute thinnings amongst the young teak areas in the reserves, and to commence forming teak plantations; and the third to carry out a systematic study of the results of the denudation of the forests on the climate of various localities, and on the water supplies in these areas, together with the results perceivable in the drying up of springs and streams, and the silting up of rivers and harbours on the coast. From the correspondence it becomes apparent that Gibson experienced considerable opposition to the introduction of conservancy from the Collectors of the districts, who were, as a body, strongly opposed to the advent of a new Department who would take over the management of the forest portions, and with them the revenue, of their districts. The divided control, which was in the hands of several departments, also resulted in great confusion and in little real progress in conservancy; whilst the accounts of the Department and the supervision of the methods by which the revenue was collected were in a deplorably chaotic condition.
One of the main reasons for the position into which the Department had drifted was to be attributed to the inadequacy of the establishment when contrasted with the area it had to control. The Conservator had only one assistant, a small office establishment and a staff of Foresters, whose total monthly pay amounted to Rs.358 only. “It is only by turning to account, here and there, the services of the carcoons and peons (who, it will be remembered, were employed in the collection of the fees for forest materials in transit from the forests, p. 220), that the Conservator had been able to exercise any watch over the forests, or provide in any manner for their conservancy. In the Tanna Collectorate and elsewhere, , wherever the right to collect the fees was farmed, no such assistance could be given to the few peons and foresters employed to watch the forests, and the general result of this lax system has been most serious on the forest resources; it being the general complaint everywhere, that all valuable timber has nearly disappeared, and that the supplies of firewood and other timber are being rapidly cleared away.
Owing to the growing scarcity of timber, and the extensive demand for wood of all descriptions for building and railway purposes, prices have within the last few years so risen as to hold out immense temptations to everyone permitted to fell timber, or to enter the forests, to turn their opportunity to the best account. Not only is timber clandestinely removed from the forests, but the felling is conducted in the most reckless and wasteful manner, and to such an extent has the devastating process been carried that serious apprehensions are entertained that if the forests are not more strictly conserved than they have hitherto been, and the Conservator's Department placed on an efficient footing to cope with the evil, the supplies of timber will fail altogether ” (Resolution of Bombay Government).
Comment on the above is unnecessary : for the true position of affairs in the Bombay Presidency could not have been more mercilessly exposed than is the case in the above Resolution.
The Collector of Dharwar, Mr. Goldfinch, brought the matter prominently to the notice of Government in a letter dated June 20th, 1860, in which he gave a melancholy account of the denuded state of the forests in that Collectorate, since he had last seen them eight years before. In consequence of this representation Government (26th December, 1860) directed Mr. Dalzell (who had been promoted from Forest Ranger in charge of the Sind Forests to succeed Gibson as Conservator of Forests in Bombay) to meet Goldfinch, and in conjunction with him to draw up a set of rules for the better conservation of the forests. Mr. Tucker, Collector of Belgaum, and Captain Anderson, Superintendent of the Revenue Survey, South Mahratta Country, were associated with them on this duty.
In submitting the Rules which had been agreed upon by Dalzell, Anderson and himself, Goldfinch remarked on the destructive system of management in the Forest Department, where the selection and cutting of the timber was left almost entirely to contractors, whose interest it was to fell as much, and only such timber, as suited their purpose, to the great injury and detriment of the forests, and he suggested that the Forest Department should be entirely relieved of all conservative duties, as also of the duty of conducting the sales of timber, and keeping the accounts, and should be restricted to the professional duties of marking and superintending the felling of marked timber.
The Bombay Government (August, 1861) gave their approval to the principle on which the Rules were drawn up by Goldfinch and Dalzell, and sanctioned their extension to all Collectorates. Under these Rules it was decided that the entire forest establishments of each Collectorate were to be under the control of the Collectors, who were to supervise the sales of timber, and keep the accounts relating to the forest management of their Collectorates, whilst the duty of the Conservator was to consist in annually visiting the forests for the purpose of advising the Collectors, and offering such suggestions for the management of the forests within their respective charges, as might appear to him desirable. Each Collector, Government considered, ought to be assisted by an Assistant
Conservator, under whose more immediate supervision the forest establishments of the Collectorate should be placed, and they directed the acting Conservator to submit, in consultation with the two Revenue Commissioners, proposals for a reorganisation of the forest establishments on these principles.
Before considering the proposals put forward for the reorganisation of the Department it will be necessary to glance at the correspondence which took place at this time between the Secretary of State and the Governor in Council, Bombay, on the subject of the forests.
The Government of Bombay had addressed two communications to the Secretary of State detailing the steps they were taking to improve the conservancy of the forests. The Secretary of State had commented adversely in a Despatch (July, 1861) upon the want of co-operation exhibited by officers of the Revenue Department towards the Department of the Conservator of Forests. The Government of Bombay in reply had referred the Secretary of State to the proceedings of their Government, sanctioning new Rules for the management of the forests, and a fresh distribution of duties between the two departments. The Secretary of State (February, 1862) remarked : “In these proceedings, whilst you fully admit the justice of the complaint brought against the Revenue Department, you have impressed, in very proper terms, upon the Collectors and their subordinate officers, the necessity of active attention to this important part of their duties.
“I sincerely trust that the changes here reported in the administration of the Forest Department, joined with the very strong expression of your opinion of the importance to the country of a due conservation of the forests, will have the effect which you anticipate in preventing similar complaints for the future. The annual visit of the Conservator to the forests I look upon as a highly important feature of the new Rules; but he should, as it appears to me, be accompanied by one of the subordinate revenue officers of the district. I am not, however, sanguine of the success of that part of the plan which places both establishments under the control of the Collector, after the past experience of the indifference shown by some Collectors to the interests of the forests. You have, however, adopted it on the recommendation of Mr. Goldfinch, Mr. Dalzell and Mr. Anderson, the Commissioner, and I sanction the experiment, and only express this doubt in order to impress upon your Government the necessity of