State's Forest Dept ropes in Delhi's National Institute of Fashion Technology to give its officers smart but functional new uniforms that will help them carry their new gadgets and will also resist wear and tear

Forest officers on the rolls of the state Forest Department will soon be exuding sartorial elegance with every step they take to protect the state's fast-depleting forest cover.
As part of an extended overhaul, the sentinels of the forest will be fitted with new gear, tailor-made to fit their needs.

The department is thinking of creating a brand identity for the field personnel, keeping in mind the increasing variety and complexity of their responsibilities.

All forest officials, including those policing Sanjay Gandhi National Park, will receive the new NIFT-designed uniforms within three months

The department is pulling out all the stops to dress its officers in trendy yet functional new work gear, and has roped in a well-known fashion institute from New Delhi the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) for the same.

The institute will be customising a brand new uniform for the sentinels of the forests. It has been asked to keep in mind certain factors while wielding its needles and thread practicality, smartness, and comfort while the forest officers perform laborious tasks under adverse conditions in forested areas.

Undergoing an extended image makeover, the department is going tech-savvy soon. It's not just the forest rangers, but the trees themselves which will be receiving some accessories of their own barcode tags, which will help officials monitor their growth and health.

It's not just their new livery that the officers will be flaunting. To complete their fashionable new avatar, they will be wielding state-of-the-art personal digital assistants (PDA) or palmtops.
These will enable them to send e-mails and messages to higher officials as soon as they get wind of crimes like tree felling and poaching within their jurisdiction.

The department's makeover was necessitated by the fact that their existing uniforms have no comfortable niches that will accommodate these equipment.
The field formation in the state's Forest Department consists of 8,771 forest guards  (FG), 2,553 foresters and 1,029 range forest officers (RFO). All of them will be suited anew for their job.

"Times have changed, and working patterns have changed. The design for the khaki uniforms that they presently wear is almost 50-years-old, and does not meet the present demands. Their hands need to be free when they are fighting fire or tackling other emergencies.
The current uniform does not allow them to keep their various equipment, which they then have to carry in their hands. That made us consider the appropriateness of the uniforms, especially in terms of functionality and design," explained Dr Arvind Kumar Jha, additional principal chief conservator of forests, Nagpur.

"Officers in different levels of the hierarchy will be given different designs. The representatives of the design institute are likely to visit the officers soon, to learn what their requirements are. We want the officers to feel a sense of pride when they wear their uniforms," added Jha.

The project will take another two to three months for completion.

A forest guard said, "We feel like watchmen when we wear our uniforms. We want to feel the same pride that a police officer feels when he wears a uniform. Ordinary trousers are of no use to us; we have to rough it out, and need material that is resistant to wear and tear. The new uniforms will also help foster a sense of pride."