Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department has begun a search for a Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force to replace the incumbent, P K Kesavan, who will retire from service in May.
As many as five principal chief conservators are being considered to succeed Kesavan: Bennychen Thomas, who is also the chief wildlife warden, Ganga Singh, who holds the charge of vigilance, D Jayaprasad, who has the responsibility of planning and development, Kerala Forest Development Corporation Managing Director Prakriti Srivastava, and Noyal Thomas, currently in charge of forest management.
Bennychen Thomas and Ganga Singh belong to the 1988 batch of IFS officers, while Jayaprasad and Prakriti Srivastava are 1990 batch officers. Noyal Thomas is a 1991-batch officer.
Bennychen has service till July 2023, while Ganga Singh will be retiring in May, 2025. Pramod Kumar Pathak of the 1986 batch is currently on central deputation. Among those in the fray, Bennychen is the most senior officer.
However, the department has other senior officers, E Pradeep Kumar (1991 batch), and Rajan Sehgal and Amit Mallick (1992). They are not being considered for the top post.
P K Kesavan, who succeeded Anil Kumar Bharadwaj, has been heading the department since February 2018.
The appointment process
A four-member panel headed by the chief secretary recommends the name of the Forest Department chief to the government. The panel would soon convene its meeting. As a precedent, the panel recommends only one name, whereas in other states, a list of all those who are under consideration will be forwarded to the government.
A controversy over granting permission to Tamil Nadu to fell trees at the Mullaperiyar Dam site had rocked the forest department recently. The order was later withdrawn.