Bamboo flowers make forest officials say ‘fire’

Bamboo flowers makeforest officials say ‘fire’

2 February 2008

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India — It is one flower that has got the forest officials on theirtoes. A special variety of bamboo, known as Katas, in the Ratanmahals forestsanctuary of Panchmahals district has began blooming, an indicator of forestfire as well as increasing number of rodents.

It was around 50 years ago that the forest area witnessed such aflowering. And now that it is forbidden to cut bamboos in reserved areas, theforest officials are seeking special permission to remove the dried bamboo andburn it before summer sets in to prevent ant forest fire.

Just 160 km from Vadodara, Katas bamboos in the entire sanctuary are infull blossom, and the flowering process is expected to continue for about 20days. According to the officials and tribals in the area, this flower is seen asan indicator of various troubles like forest fire and an increase in the numberof rodents in the sanctuary due its seeds.

Bachu Vakhla (65), who witnessed bamboo flowering around five decadesago, said, “Katas bamboo flowering is known to cause forest fires. The reasonis that just after the flowering, the cluster of Katas bamboo crumbles andbecomes dry.” He added, “I witnessed its flowering when I was a ten-year-old.However, Pipergota village where I live was not declared a sanctuary at thattime, so the crumbled bamboo clusters were removed by the Jungle Kaamdar SamitiMandali.”

Jagdish Prasad, Conservator of the Forest, Vadodara division, said,“We are trying to seek special permission from Central Empowerment Committee,Delhi to remove the crumbled Katas bamboo clusters from the sanctuary as soon aspossible.” He further said, “We have employed tribals from Pipergota,Alindra and Morai villages in 12 groups to gather dry bamboo leaves and burnthem. Each person in a group of around six people will be given a daily wage ofRs 102.”

After the dry leaves are burnt, the Forest department will employeeanother group to put a thin layer of polythene beneath the Katas bamboo clustersand gather its seeds, to stop the possible increase in rodent population.

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