Nepal– Forest fires that started a few days ago have spread across more than 77,000 hectares of forest land in six districts in Lumbini zone. Fires in several places have yet to be contained.
The raging fire has mainly damaged the forests in Chure range and adjoining areas close to the East-West Highway.
District Forest Officer of Rupandehi Indra Prasad Pachhai attributed the growing number of forest fires this year to long dry spell, windy weather and peoples carelessness. He pointed out the difficult terrain, limited resources and unmanaged forest as challenges facing them in containing fires.
According to the forest office data, the fire has affected around 77,000 hectares of forest land in the past one week. Nawalparasi district is the worst hit, with the firing sweeping through 40,000 hectares out of the total 122,365 hectares of forest land in the district. The raging inferno has affected 19,000 hectares of forest land in Arghakhanchi.
In Palpa, a middle-aged man was killed and two others sustained serious injuries while trying to bring a raging fire in the community forest under control last week. The bushfire has destroyed 33 houses and 35 animal sheds in Lumbini zone.
The authorities concerned have mobilised squads comprising personnel from district forest office, forest consumer group and security agencies in each district to contain the fire. However, their efforts have been less effective due to limited resources.
As temperature soars well above forties and the State reels under severe scorching hot weather not only the people but also the wildlife are being badly affected as reports of severe wild fires in several forests in the State has been reported, sources said.
As per official sources, at least 750 forest areas have caught fire in the last fortnight or so which has resulted in destruction of diverse species of trees and wildlife. Such a severe revelation has been provided to the State Government by the Forest Survey of India. It has said that districts which have been affected by such wildfires are Kandhamal, Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Balasore, Ganjam, Nayagarh, Khurda, Cuttack, Angul, Koraput and Malkangiri.
But most important point is that before the administration is able to douse fires at one place, forests at other places catch fire. Sources said at least 15 places have caught fire on Friday in Sambalpur, Keonjhar and Kandhamal districts. Adding to the misery is the fact that the Fire Brigade does not have adequate fire fighting personnel and equipment to cater to any emergency needs that may arise.
Moreover, the local Meteorological Department said that there is no possibility of any rain for the next week or so. Besides, a senior forest official said many a time such wild fires are result of human mischief.
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