India — Silchar, Feb. 1: The Mizoram government will announce steps to tackle wildfire triggered by the slash and burn method of farming, popularly called jhum, during late winter and early summer in the state.
Sources said in Aizawl, the state-level fire prevention committee, under the chairmanship of chief minister Lalthanhawla, has set March 15 as the deadline for the farmers to complete the jhum process of burning the fallow and dry fields.
The committee will ensure that the administrations of the state’s eight districts abide by the directive.
An official data bank released by the economics and statistics department of the Mizoram government revealed that jhum, generally undertaken on the slopes of the hills criss-crossing this state of 2,1081 square km, has hindered the output of rice, the staple of Mizos and vegetables.
Statistics showed that Mizoram produces 1,40,503 tonnes of rice, mainly from jhum cultivation, which is inadequate to meet the domestic demand. The state has to depend on monthly ration from the Centre.
The state government has now launched a Rs 2,289-crore scheme for farmers to shun jhum cultivation, to grow paddy the modern way and also encourage them to produce cash-spinning commercial crops like sunflower.
A senior government source in Aizawl today said the chief minister has now been stressing the need to prevent forest fires especially after October when the state is quite dry.
Forest department sources in Aizawl said between December 2010 and May 2011, as many as 58 wildfires had destroyed 1,260 hectares of the forestland, leading to a loss of Rs 1.66 crore.
At least six persons died in Kolosib district in Mizoram, 90km from Aizawl, two years ago as jhum farmers were in one such fire.