Minister calls for year free of forest fire

 Minister calls for year free of forest fire

2 January 2008

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Kerala, India — Forest Minister Benoy Viswom has directed the Principal Secretary (Forests) and the Chief Conservator of Forests (Development) that fire protection of forests during the coming summer should be ensured with full participation of the Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS) and Eco-development Committees (EDCs).

“All measures for fire protection should be carried out through the VSS and EDCs. The fire protection and forest protection funds should be allocated to them in time for this. The Range Officers and Divisional Forest Officers will be responsible for carrying out the works though the VSS and EDC,” Mr. Viswom said.

The Minister noted that usual fire prevention measures such as clearing of fire lines and appointment of watchers had not been fully effective. “The forests could be protected only with the cooperation of the local people,” he said.

Mr. Viswom said if VSS and EDCs come forward to provide low-cost fire protection without clearing fire lines, they should be encouraged and empowered to do so. Necessary financial assistance should also be provided.

The Minister said new methods should be adopted to ensure safety this year. Officials should take the leadership and review the working of the VSS and EDCs on a weekly basis. Proper and beneficial use of funds should be ensured.

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