GUWAHATI, Oct 9 � Even though they remain at the forefront of conservation braving harsh jungle lives, these brave-hearts often remain a marginalised lot and rarely are their contributions recognised.
The Prabhakar Barua Gor Surakhya awards presented at the Vivekananda Kendra auditorium this evening honoured three frontline forest staff and the leader of a grassroots conservation society for exemplary acts of bravery and commitment.
Instituted by the Prabhakar Barua Memorial Trust in memory of the first Assamese Chief Conservator of Forests of undivided Assam, the Prabhakar Barua �Gor Surakhya Veer Puraskar� was formally presented to Loknath Patgiri of Kaziranga National Park, Ghaneswar Deka of Orang National Park and Mantu Nath of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
The award was in recognition of the three frontline staff�s acts of courage and commitment in the face of extreme danger amounting to extra efforts beyond the scope of their official duty.
All of them had been instrumental in eliminating a number of poachers and seizure of sophisticated firearms while taking on armed gangs of poachers inside their respective forests.
The other award � Prabhakar Barua �Gor Surakhya Sachetak Puraskar� � presented to Sanjiv Das of Manas Ever Welfare Society which is engaged in conservation on the fringe areas of Manas National Park acknowledged his role in mobilising communities for the protection and conservation of rhinoceros, for protection of straying rhinos and for providing any information about the activities of poachers.
Addressing the function, the dignitaries � MP Bezbaruah, nember, North Eastern Council; Jitesh Khosla, Chief Secretary, Assam; RP Agarwala, Principal Chief Conservator of Assam (Wildlife); and Niranjan Goswami, retired IFS officer � stressed the need for people�s participation in conservation to make it a success.
Terming conservation as a big challenge, the speakers were of the view that the Forest Department alone would fall short of meeting the challenge and advocated bringing in people � especially the communities living in fringe areas of forests � as stakeholders in the conservation process.
�Unless we can get the locals� support in conservation by making them active partners in the conservation process and ensure that they too benefit from the bounteous resources around them, conservation is unlikely to succeed. A concerted effort is the need of the hour to ensure that we do not part with this invaluable bequeath of nature and successfully leave it for posterity,� Bezbaruah said.
The speakers also lauded the role of the awardees and said that exemplary acts while on duty must be given due recognition so that more and more people could derive inspiration and be a role model for performance.
Two colleagues of late Prabhakar Barua � Hiranya Choudhury and Rudra Goswami � recollected their association with Barua, terming him as a towering personality and a great administrator who contributed significantly towards conservation. Barua held the top position of the department for 13 long years from 1963 to 1976. It was during his tenure that Kaziranga was declared a National Park in 1974.