Made to run 25 km for forest guard job, one dies, seven in hospital

Making an exception to the rule banning appointments to Class IV posts, the Maharashtra forest department recently announced 1,175 guard jobs open for recruitment. It was flooded with applications more than hundred times the number of jobs available. The physical criteria for recruitment was a 25-km run for men and a 14-km run for women.

Of the 9,500 aspirants who appeared for 85 posts in Yavatmal division over Monday and Tuesday, several collapsed, eight were admitted in hospital, and on Tuesday afternoon, a 23-year-old died.

Yavatmal Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Devendra Kumar said it was wrong to blame the department. "We take undertakings from candidates that they will run at their own risk. We also make it clear in the advertisement that only those fit to undertake such tests must apply," he told The Indian Express.

Incidentally, the incidents of candidates collapsing were reported from other cities too. For women candidates, the qualifying criterion is a 14-km run.

Balaji Narsingrao Tirmanwar belonged to Mandvi village in the backward Jhari-Jamni tahsil of Yavatmal. Having covered 12.5 km one way during his 25-km run, he was on his way back when he collapsed. Balaji's father Narsingrao said: "My son fell down at 11.30 am and was lying on the road for one-and-a-half hours. Hospital staff were saying that had he been brought earlier, his life could have been saved."

However, the forest department denies this. "As soon as our staff noticed that he was frothing, they immediately shifted him to a government hospital and then to a private hospital," CCF Kumar told The Indian Express.

"Doctors said he went into coma due to restricted supply of oxygen to brain... Incidentally, he was the only one who faced this problem. All others who were hospitalised were dehydrated. It means Balaji could have had some other problem."

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