CHENNAI: A fit youngster, recruited as a trainee forester, is able to pass through a tunnel, covered with grass. Half a dozen such trainees follow him successfully through the tunnel. This was the scene at the Tamil Nadu Forestry College near Vaigai dam in Theni.

The forest department has created a commando training centre, where these trainee forest foot soldiers (both foresters and guards) undergo rigorous physical exercises to keep them fit, says a senior forest officer.

Top soil from this area was removed to build the bund for the Vaigai dam. In order to make the area a green lung, the department took up planting of saplings, due to which the soil got enriched. Subsequently the training school for foresters and guards was started here.

Crossing tunnels, hurdles, jungle survival, rope climbing, night patrolling, handling night vision camera form part of the training programme. Apart from these, the frontline staff will also learn to handle weapons such as rifles and pistols. The existing firing range has been renovated for this purpose, says the officer. An important component of the training programme is the creation of a nature trail for three kilometers. The foot soldiers have to trek on the trail regularly.

The department also plans to allow groups of children in the future so as to enrich their knowledge on nature and the flora and fauna found in there, says a senior officer.

Fifteen people undergo training at a time. It lasts for a week. The department has roped in ex-service men, who impart the training to the frontline staff. The training schedule does not merely end with physical fitness. Yoga and meditation, field trips, classes on preventive medicine, group discussions etc are also part of it.

“This is for the first time a commando training centre has been started by the department and its activities will be improved periodically,” said another officer.

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Source: TOI-Che