UNI Baripada (Orissa) March 28: Orissa has launched a multi-pronged approach to prevent and contain the man-made forest groundfires which normally being in April-May wreaking havoc in the forest.
State chief wildlife warden, Mr Suresh Chandra Mohanty said the department has already deployed special fire fighting squads in all the wildlife sanctuaries in the state as a precautionary measure.
Already 20 such squads are on alert to combat the forest fires. This is done by beating out or thrashing the smouldering forest floor with brooms, Mr Mohanty said.
The sqaud, he said, would also start a counterfire to contain the blaze from spreading beyond a specified area adding that the squads have been advised to maintain the fire-line to prevent chances of man-made forest fires.
He said people involved in man-made forest fires would be arrested and prosecuted under sections 29 and 30 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
This was the first time, the forest department has introduced a graded incentive scheme to be paid to groups of villagers residing inside or in the periphery of forests for their role in preventing or extinguishing any forest fire anywhere in the state.
Officials attributed the forest fire in the state to various factors including the action of the tribals deliberately setting fire to the forest undergrowths for collecting honey, arraroot and resins.
During the period the tribals also collect mahua flowers and sal seeds, by clearing the ground under trees by means of induced fires. Poachers too set fire to the forest undergrowth to trap animals within a ring of fire.
According to forest department sources, the tribals first clear the forest floor and set it on fire for facilitating collection of minor forest products.
The forest fires eliminated all the surface and underground micro-fauna like white ants from the region where repeated fires were reported.