6,520 forest fires scorch Chhattisgarh in last 37 days

6,520 forest fires scorch Chhattisgarh in last 37 days

Chhattisgarh recorded a total 6,520 forest fire incidents from February 15 to March 22, which is highest in forest fire season in last three years, the forest department said Tuesday.

Most of these fire incidents have been in Maoist affected districts of the state where the reach of the forest department is less.

Forest department officials claimed that till now total 13.51 square kilometers of forest has been affected in the bush fires which suggest that most of the fire incidents were small and were doused on time.

Fire incidents between February 15 and June 15 are recorded in the forest fire season every year.

“Around 20 per cent of total fire incidents were reported in Bijapur district and Udanti Sitanadi Forest Reserve in Gariyaband district. Both are Maoist affected districts of the state hence the reach of the forest department is less in comparison to other areas. Secondly, this year the season is dry compared to previous years and no rainfall was recorded, hence the fire incidents increased,” said Rakesh Chaturvedi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF).

In Bijapur district total 705 fires were reported till Monday while in Udanti Sitanadi Tiger Reserve 599 incidents of fire were recorded.

The official further claimed that the movement of people was less in 2020 due to the lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and hence, a lesser number of fires – 4713 – were reported.

In 2019, a total of 17,835 fire incidents were reported in the state and around 138 square kilometers of area was affected.

“In 2021, most of these recorded fire incidents, till now, were minor and were contained by the department within an hour. The satellite system which alerts us for any fire incident in the jungle is very sensitive hence it alerts us even for small fire incidents. The local forest officials were alerted in most cases and the fires were contained within a few hours,” said OP Yadav, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Protection).

Activists believe that most of these fires were reported in protected areas which indicates that the poachers and hunters are active in these areas.

“Hunters burn forest to push the wild animal in a corner of a jungle so that they can kill or trap them. The figures suggest that the forest department should be more active in the jungle since the forest fire season continues till June,” said Amlendu Mishra, member of the State Wildlife Advisory Board.

Some activists also alleged that the forest department was not prepared to contain fire incidents in the state.

“The way fire incidents are reported in the state, it is clear that the department was not prepared and has not provided resources at village-level to contain incidents. These incidents also suggest that the management and protection of forests is possible only with the participation of the community and village. That is why under Community Forest Resources (CFR), the forest resources can be protected and managed only by handing over forest resources to the gram sabhas and empowering them,” said Alok Shukla, convener of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan.

News Source: Hindustan Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.