Kolkata: The state Forest department has decided to set up its own recruitment board wherein local youths would be recruited as forest security guards, state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in the state Assembly on Thursday.”These youths possess knowledge of the area, so they will be able to handle forest related problems in an effective manner than the forest guards, who are recruited through Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examination,” Banerjee said in reply to a question from a Left Front MLA, who wanted to know the steps taken by the state Forest department to curb illegal cutting down of trees in forests. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeShe reiterated that strong action is being taken against this unfair practice and directed Forest minister Binay Krishna Barman to take up the issue seriously. Taking the cue from the Chief Minister, Barman said the state government has decided to set up Forest Recruitment Board for recruiting forest guards.”We have recently recruited 259 forest guards through SSC. These people after joining their jobs in the forests of North Bengal or the Sunderbans have expressed their reluctance in carrying out their duties and prayed for shifting to other places, where forest cover is much less like Kolkata and Howrah. Recruiting local youths will help address this issue,” the minister said. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedThe minister maintained that the department will recruit ‘Aranya Bandhus’ (friends of the forest) in every Gram Panchayat in non-forest areas. “As per rule, a person has to seek permission of the Forest department before felling a tree in a non-forest area. The person needs to approach the range officer who, then seeks the nod of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) and, provides the necessary permission to the person. The process is alengthy affair. The ‘Aranya Bandhus’ will now assist the owner to fast track the process of permission,” Barman added. Local youths will be employed as ‘Aranya Bandhus’ and their income will range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000. “We will also offer training to these people for setting up nursery that will act as an added source of income for them. Some of the trees that they grow in the nursery will be taken by the state for plantation and the rest they will be able to sell on their own,” Barman said.