India — NAGPUR: The union ministry for rural development (MRD) headed by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh has rejected the demand for including the forest fire control works underMahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
The MRD has not accepted fire line cutting activity under MGNREGA while adopting entire EGS scheme from Maharashtra government. Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation & member of National Board for Wild Life (NBWL), on March 14, had written to Ramesh on the issue.
On Satpuda Foundation’s request Ramesh’s ministry had asked state principal secretary for forests to send a proposal. The state forest ministry had supported the views of Rithe and informed MRD that the activity was earlier permitted under EGS, a scheme funded by state’s own resources but later discontinued for some reasons.
However, recently SP Vashishth, director of MGNREGA, Delhi, has given ‘free advise’ to the state to deploy its own funds for cutting fire lines in the forests. The MRD has sought the reasons why such an effective and most essential scheme was discontinued.
“Why the activity, which was considered appropriate under EGS, is not able to find place in MGNREGA. The MRD is denying to grab an opportunity to provide huge employment to tribals by not accepting cutting of fire line work under MGNREGA,” Rithe said.
Fires are serious threats to forests in India and their effect is more in Central India due to dry deciduous forest where temperatures go up to 47 degrees during peak summer. The forests of India help the country to conserve rain water and contribute the same through streams, rivers, reservoirs, wells and tube wells for development of the country.
In Central India, water has been a limiting factor due to high temperatures during summer and the region faces water scarcity even during winter due to drought and scanty rainfall. Forest fires are affecting water resources in Central India thereby affecting agriculture and industrial development.
“But, the MRD has failed to understand the gravity of the issue. Like the fundamental principle of economy which underlines that fact ‘money saved is money earned’ – forest saved is also forest generated. Considering this aspect of asset creation, the fire protection and control works were allowed to conduct under EGS in Maharashtra. It would now not be done under MGNREGA too,” said Rithe. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.