Forest fire rages, staff helpless

Forest fire rages, staff helpless

01 May 2013

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India — Even as fire has been spreading in the reserve forest of Kamakhyanagar (East and West) for the last three days making life miserable for people of the peripheral villages, the forest officials are unable to bring it under control citing lack of infrastructure, manpower and equipment.

Due to the raging fire in interior areas of the forest, temperature has gone up making life miserable for the villagers as well as the animals. “The heat is unbearable at times. My one-year-old child is running high fever due to the heat,” said Kanti Munda, a tribal resident of the area.

Taking advantage of the fire, poachers have resorted to indiscriminate hunting of animals.

As the animals stray into the safer areas on the boundary of forest to escape the fire, poachers kill them and sell their flesh at ‘dhabas’. Hundreds of boars and deer have reportedly been hunted and their flesh was sold to roadside ‘dhabas’ on Dhenkanal border and also outside.

Dishes made of the flesh of the poached animals are usually sold on demand in the ‘dhabas’ and hotels in the rural areas along Dhenkanal-Angul National Highway and Kamakshyanagar-Parjang-Talcher road. A villager, on condition of anonymity, said he had sold flesh of a boar that had died in forest fire for `350 on Friday. The poachers easily target animals in Kapilash sanctuary for its porous boundary. DFO Harmohan Maharatha said the Department has engaged 40 daily wagers at ` 100 per day to fight the fire in the border areas of the forest.

Besides, four flying squads with vehicle facilities and safety equipment have been stationed in Kamakhyanagar, Hindol, Kapilash and Sadar ranges. These workers have been engaged from March upto June on temporary basis, the DFO said.

But Maharatha said the forest fire has not been controlled as the Department does not have the adequate equipment and manpower to douse fire deep inside the forest.

Forestors also claimed that even the villagers contribute to the forest fire. In order to collect Mahua flowers, they collect the dried leaves from under the Mahua trees to clean up the surface and dump those at a distance before setting fire to the heap. Without ascertaining that the fire does not spread to nearby area, they leave the place.

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