India — Fire is destroying the forest wealth of the state, going by the data presented in the Assembly on Tuesday. The state lost more than 14,000 hectares of forest to fire since 2006-07, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom said in a written reply.
The state lost 14,632 hectares in 1,950 forest fires since 2006-07, the minister said. The total loss to the state in monetary terms had been pegged at Rs 10,06,621. During the present fiscal, to date, fire had consumed 841.09 hectares of forests, he said. During 2006-07, 5,736 hectares were affected by forest fire, during 2007-08, it was 2,381 hectares. During 2008-09, 5,674 hectares were lost to fire.There had been a rise and fall in the number of forest fires every year. As many as 426 forest fires were reported in 2006-07, 338 in 2007-08, 932 in 2008-09 and 254 in 2009-10.
Satellite-based monitoring with the help of the ISRO and local-level vigilance were among the strategies mooted by the Forest Department to check forest fire. But, despite such precautionary measures, fighting forest fire could prove extremely difficult because of the remoteness of the terrain.
The works sanctioned by the 12th Finance Commission for developing the inland waterways in the state would be completed in March, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told the Assembly on Tuesday.
In 2006-07, administrative sanction was given for Rs 52.25 crore. A total of 120 works were started and 72 had been completed. During 2007-2010, administrative sanction was accorded for Rs 151.98 crore. Of the 127 works started, 37 were completed.
Of the 590 km of waterways in the state, 168 km were under the National Waterway-III. The rest, 422 km, were state waterways. Works were taken up on 92 km, and completed on 47.13 km, the Chief Minister said. Development of the north-south waterway was the flagship project of the LDF Government in its first budget.
The ambitious project, which would bring relief to the overcrowded Kerala roads and smoothen cargo transport, had its problems, he said.
There are boundary disputes and disputes regarding Chinese fishing nets and encroachment. These have to be addressed, the Chief Minister said.