India — Rain showers in Himachal Pradesh have not only brought the rising mercury down bringing relief from scorching heat, but has also helped in dousing forest fires which had been reported from across the state.
Dry weather conditions had led to a rise in incidents of forest fire. Besides, other parts of the state – Dharamshala, Shimla and Kasauli too have witnessed incidents of forest fire this year.
According to forest officials, majority of forest fire incidents are manmade. Forest fires in the state have already gutted precious forest wealth worth crores as the efforts made by the state government and forest department in its control proved insufficient considering the tough geographical condition of the state.
Forests in the state were witnessing frequent fires due to prevailing dry weather condition.
As it is not possible to take fire tenders inside the forests due to their inaccessibility to road, efforts to control the flames were proving futile.
“But for last three days state is receiving good amount of rain which has not only brought the temperature down but has also helped in controlling the fire,” said retired IAS officer RS Negi who is working for the conservation of environment in the state.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) Nagesh Guleria claims that this year forest fire cases have been lesser as compared to previous year and this year apart from roping in ITBP personnel to prevent forest fires, the forest department has also employed its persons in the fire season which starts from April 1 to June 15, who collect and dispose off pine needles timely, which are a potential source of fires.
Biggest district of Himachal Pradesh, Kangra, has around 90, 000 hectares of forest area which is considered as fire sensitive. In Himachal Pradesh forest cover has increased to 16,460 square kilometers during past four decades. State had 20,540 sq kms of forest cover in year 1970-71 which had now increased to over 37,000 sq kms. But with the increase in area, forest wealth has also become vulnerable to fire and encroachment.
Expressing concern over the forest fires taking place in different parts of the state, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that forest fire not only destroys the green cover but also destroys flora and fauna, essential ingredient for forests.