Villagers prevent spread of wildfire

Villagers prevent spread of wildfire

18 October 2008

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Pakistan — Prompt response coupled with consistent efforts by villagers helped prevent spread of a wildfire in a jungle surrounding Angoori, a scenic picnic spot, when some car-riding picnickers during their stopover threw cigarette stubs into the dry bushes along the road before moving forward to their destination.

The incident was the third of its kind this season that made the villagers rush to the troubled spot and put out the fire with available means. The villagers who participated in the fire-fighting effort received some minor burn injuries, but all was well at the end of this highly regrettable episode.

When asked whether they ever informed the fire-brigade department of the federal capital about these incidents, one of the villagers, Nauraiz Satti, said the fire fighters almost took half an hour to reach the spot after recent deadly Marriott hotel blast, let alone the area at the outskirts of the city.

We may often consider the throwing of wrappers, bottles and other used material under the trees and bushes at the picnic spots, a careless attitude on the part of some visitors, but such an act that can cause severe damage to natural environmental character calls for strict action against those responsible for it.

The place offers highly scenic landscape and cool and tranquil environment in the summer season that has almost ended in this part of the country. Lacking all such basic facilities available at other popular recreational spots of the capital city, it is still a high-priority destination for many visitors who have some real charm and attraction towards Mother Nature.

The villagers also complained that some of the visitors after enjoying meals under the trees do not bother to collect the used stuff for its proper disposal that caused stinking smell at these places. Most of the time these villagers themselves dispose of the stinking material to maintain cleanliness at the spots where visitors make stop over during their recreational ride. Implementation of the ban on smoking at public places like this one is still a far cry keeping in view the ground conditions even at the most popular picnic spots where anti-smoking law goes up in smoke.

Lack of political will, awareness among public, absence of effective mechanism and loopholes in law have so far stalled the efforts to enforce the anti-smoking law in letter and spirit. The law imposes a penalty up to Rs1,000, extendible to Rs100,000 in case of second offence, for smoking in public places. Punishment, in certain cases, also suggested three-month imprisonment. But one can hardly find any example of punishment to violators of anti-smoking law that can make one realise that it might be just a ‘showcase’ document.

Shaista Naqvi, a social scientist, said the sense of personal responsibility among the citizens is always a hallmark of any civilised society and laws are made just to create fear in the hearts of those who generate negative tendencies in their attitude. She pointed out that with the fast growing awareness especially in the urban areas, the individuals were showing some kind of improvement in their behaviour, but there was still lot to be done to meet the ethical standards of any civilised society.

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