After completing her primary education from Kanpur, she earned her Master’s degree in Zoology from Allahabad University in Uttar Pradesh. Belonging to the Indian Forest Service batch of 2010-12, her first posting was Harda in southern Madhya Pradesh.
Kannogia’s stellar record with encroachment started early on in her career.
As the Sub Divisional Officer in Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh from 2013-14, she cleared 1268 hectares of forest land and shut down around 40 illegal sawmills, while dealing with other illegal forest activities like unlicensed sale of trees, illegal settlers on forest lands, miners and wildlife-related crimes.
When she became Divisional Forest Officer of Ashoknagar, Madhya Pradesh in 2014, she cleared around 1936 hectares of land from encroachment, deftly navigating conflicts between villagers and the Forest Department.
Photo courtesy: Basu Kannogia
While Kannogia is primarily in charge of encroachment, she has also been instrumental in controlling illegal mining with night patrolling measures, and overseeing the relocation of villages in protected areas. Under her governance, 10 out of 57 villages in Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary were relocated, the grassland revived, and two tigers spotted roaming in the area!
Currently, she serves as the Divisional Forest Officer in Ratlam, where she is actively involved in capacity building of forest department staff. She motivates her field staff for clearance of forest encroachment without yielding to any pressure, political or otherwise, while remaining attentive to the needs of forest dwelling communities. She also makes it a point to encourage women living around forested areas to participate in forestry work like protection of forests from fires and other illegal activities.
When asked about how she has been able to forge ahead with encroachment cases, she explains the process. “Clearing the encroachment area requires an elaborate exercise which can be rectified by various documents available with the department. After this, a series of paperwork and notices are given. Often encroachers are willing to leave the land, but sometimes a task force is needed to free the land.”
Photo courtesy: Basu Kannogia
Her participatory approach to forest conservation is an inspiration to conservationists, government officials and communities everywhere.
“Everyone should take nature as a joint responsibility and fulfill their duty in conserving nature by any means they can. We should ask our elders what they are leaving behind for us. How many animals, plants, and how much oxygen, for us to survive?” she asks.
Although her career has been littered with challenges, the biggest challenge, according to her, is the collective attitude towards forest offences. “People do not consider forest offences as a crime. It is hard to make other departments realize that forest offences are also crimes and offenders are criminals. Their non-serious attitude and their notion that the forest department is a major hindrance towards development makes our job difficult.” Kannogia explains.
Despite this, she is confident in her goal to “make the maximum area of forest plantable and encroachment free.” After all, she has faced death threats and political pressure without flinching.
Finally, she signs off with some helpful advice for young conservationists in the field.
“Youngsters have to find a balance between nature and development, as both have their importance. An upper hand should go to the environment as our survival rests on it.” she concludes.