India NEW DELHI: With nearly 55 per cent rise in forest fire spots in 2016 from last year, a parliamentary panel has recommended systematic replacement of chir pine trees in forests with broad-leaved trees, observing that its needles are highly inflammable due to high resin content.
The panel also flayed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change over the declining trend of funds released by the government for protection of forests and controlling forest fires.
“Chir pine needles, which are highly inflammable due to its high resin content, are a prominent factor in occurring and spreading of forest fires.
“The Committee also recommends that broad tree leaves should be planted in forests, and after a period of five years, there should be a systematic replacement of chir pine trees in forests by broad leaves as it has been seen that the incident of fires in latter forest are minimal as compared to chir pine trees,” the Committee said in its report.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests tabled its report before the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The Committee also suggested procuring sweeping machines to clear roadsides of chir pine needles and dry leaves in vulnerable areas and said steps should be taken to incentivize the clearing and collection of pine needles.
The report stated that 2016 witnessed 24,817 forest fires spots in comparison to 15,937 in 2015, a jump of nearly 55 per cent.
In 2016, Uttarakhand alone witnessed a nearly 700 per cent rise in forest fire spots. In 2015, the state recorded 207 fire spots, but the figure rose to 1501 in 2016.
Fires destroyed nearly 4000 hectares of forest covering over 13 districts in the hill state. It killed 9 people and injured 17.
The Committee also observed that there seems to be “huge disconnect” between the research done by Forest Research Institute, a body under the MoEF&CC and its usage by state forest departments and other agencies.
It also recommended that the government should approach countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which witness a large number of forest fire cases, and study the use of other systems used for fire fighting such as chemical fogging. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.