India — Forest fires in periphery of Rajaji National Park in Haridwar have damaged about nine hectare lands in past couple of days. Rajaji officials informed that forest fires are occurring in periphery and not core areas of national park due to large floating population in Haridwar which regularly enters forests.
The national park director SP Subudhi has appealed to the public to desist from entering forests especially due to the risk of chance encounters with elephants considering the increased movement of pachyderms in the region.
In addition to this prominent religious, Government and commercial bodies in Haridwar should also assist the national park in tackling forest fires as the department has limited resources to mitigate forest fires on its own.
While talking to The Pioneer, Subudhi said that forests in Tibdi near the SIDCUL industrial estate caught fire on Tuesday while jungles in Mayapur near Mansa Devi caught fire on Wednesday. The industrial workers employed in SIDCUL estate regularly enter forests in Tibdi to attend natures call and collect firewood. Similarly, villagers and at least 90 per cent of the floating population visiting Haridwar enter the woods for the same reasons. As many of the people smoke in the jungles, they end up starting forest fires by carelessly throwing lit beedis. I have directed the range officer to request people to abstain from entering forests especially due to the risk of chance encounters with elephants. Elephant movement has been increasing in the region and due to climatic conditions some bull elephants are still in must which could prove fatal for any human encountering them, he warned.
Subudhi further said that the Public Works Department, Ganga Mahasabha and Usha Breco which operates the cable car to Mansa Devi shrine should help the department tackle forest fires by providing at least five workers each. This would help prevent forest fires more effectively as the national park has limited manpower and resources to achieve this on its own.