People, Environment

Majlis Decries Disregard Over Park Rangers Bill

Majlis Decries Disregard Over Park Rangers BillMajlis Decries Disregard Over Park Rangers Bill

The Environmental Group in the Majlis (parliament) has criticized the Department of Environment for not consulting it while framing a bill to enhance the legal rights of park rangers.

The bill was prepared by the DOE and presented to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri earlier this week for review. It is slated to be submitted to the Majlis after any alteration is made.  

Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, the head of the group, complained about the legislature “being kept in the dark”, adding that the government should have sought the advice of lawmakers.

“Unfortunately, we were not informed that a bill to support park rangers was being prepared, which is regrettable because it would have boosted the odds of the government getting acceptable results from the bill if the group had been consulted,” he said, which indicates that the bill’s approval might not be as smooth as initially thought.

Tabesh had said last week that the Majlis would cooperate and help enhance the legal rights of park rangers.

The lawmaker also lamented the fact that steps were not taken earlier to support park rangers, as the shortcomings are so obvious.     

  What the Bill Offers

The protection unit at DOE, which office handles park rangers’ affairs, helped write up the bill. Hamidreza Kheildar, the head of the protection unit, said their ideas were included in the bill.

The official pointed to a number of issues that have been covered in the proposal, hoping that they will gain the approval of the authorities.

One of the articles addresses rules concerning arms permits for poachers, which pose a serious threat to rangers.  

“This articles stresses that hunters (except nomads) who have a firearm license are only allowed to keep it at home unless they obtain a hunting permit from the DOE,” Kheildar was quoted as saying by Tasnim News Agency.

According to Kheildar, those who carry their hunting guns or set out to practice hunting without the DOE’s approval will be punished.

He hoped that the reforms will eventually minimize the dangers facing park rangers.

Kheildar pointed to the lack of staff as another issue that the bill has addressed, stressing that the DOE is currently short of 5,000 workers to serve as park rangers.

Besides the lack of workforce, the plan also seeks the improvement of rangers’ equipment, including communication tools, cameras and vehicles as well as more stations across protected areas.

The new bill was prepared following the murder of three park rangers a few weeks ago in two separate incidents that compelled both environmental officials and activists to demand better legal protection for the park rangers.