Fire lines, watchers in place to check forest blazes

Fire lines, watchers in place to check forest blazes

27 December 2012

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India —  MYSORE: Forest department authorities are going all out to ensure that the fires that raged through Nagarahole and other forest tracts early this year, do not recur.

Work is on to create fire lines to stop accidental fires from spreading in the tiger reserves of Nagarahole, Bandipur and Biligiri Ranga. Usually, fire line work starts early in January, but this season, forest officials are taking extra precautions after the bitter experience at Nagarahole where a patch was allegedly burnt down owing to dissatisfaction among tribals who were not given jobs last summer. Work is expected to be complete by January.

The department will also start recruiting temporary watchers to check fires inside the forests. Unlike the previous season, forest officials said preference will be given to tribals, when recruitment commences in January.

Nagarahole sanctuary director R Gokul told TOI that extra precautions are being taken in Nagarahole which witnessed a major fire 10 months ago. Lack of seasonal rain also facilitated fire line work, which will run along 1700km in Nagarahole, and of which 90% work is complete.

“We have divided the park into several parts and each part will be fitted with Global Positioning System devices. This will help forest authorities find the source of a fire, unlike earlier,” Gokul said. “We’ve also improvised the wireless system which will help staff and employees communicate and update the department quickly, even from distant locations.”

Ring Road inside forest

A ring road has been laid inside Nagarahole forest for easy access to remote places. Gokul said that during fire accidents, it is difficult to reach ground zero to put out the fire. Now that the road is laid, we can also hire vehicles to help ferry forest staff working in the tiger reserve, he added.

Doing it differently

Fire lines are being set up in all the three tiger reserves and will be completed soon. Usually, the process starts in January but this year, we are already nearing completion. Recruitment of watchers to check forest fires will commence in January and tribals will be given preference for these temporary posts.

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