India DEHRADUN: In a first, members of paramilitary forces like BSF, ITBP, CSIF etc along with forest officials were provided training at the Forest Research Institute (FRI) on Monday on “Forest Fire Disaster Risk Mitigation”. The five-day training programme in which paramilitary personnel have been included for the first time is being held by Forest Research Institute, Dehradun in collaboration of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), New Delhi.
In the course of these five days, officers of the forest department and Eco-Task Force, ITBP, CSIF and BSF will be given training and sensitized about forest fires besides being made aware of the extent of damage caused by forest fire in forest areas ,the reasons for occurrence of forest fire, the steps that can be taken to prevent or minimize the losses due to fire by use of various remote sensing and geographic information system tools and by developing a strong network between other departments of the government and Joint Forest Management Communities (JFMCs) so that massive forest fire disasters can be controlled as it already was prevalent inAustralia, Peru, USA and Europe in the last few years.
Uttarakhand had witnessed rampant forest fires this year which had burnt thousands of acres of forest cover in the hills and along with forest officials, NDRF forces were also deployed to contain the spread. The training is attended first time by the Commandants and Deputy Commandants of paramilitary forces including forest officers from various forest departments throughout India.
“We hold such training every year but for the first time paramilitary force officials are also being trained. In the forest fires in our state in the recent past, their help was taken immensely but often we have seen the paramilitary forces need training when it comes to combating forest fires specifically and all of them will be duly trained with special emphasis on mock drills in forest areas. It is the need of the day that paramilitary forces should also be involved in forest fire management” said Dr V K Dhawan, Scientist, FRI.
Adding to which, he said, “This time there are total 27 participants and we will ensure in the 5 days of their training they get wide exposure to varied techniques of fire combat and control measures. In fact we will be soon taking all participants to Forest Survey of India (FSI). Besides other things, FSI receives satellite signals in case of a fire from NRSC Hyderabad which they intimate to forest department and immediately teams are sent to combat these forest fires. We will be giving participants in-depth knowledge of how forest fire stations work and how fire alarm works besides the ways to minimize the losses due to fire by use of various remote sensing and geographic information system tools” The training was inaugurated by Dr Savita, Director, FRI, who suggested participants to learn new methods and technologies developed by various institutions like GIS and GPS techniques for prevention and control of forest fires from this training program while stating, “Forest departments should be well prepared before fire season for controlling forest fires. The fire lines and any fuel materials lying on the forest floor should be cleared before fire season so that fire may not be extended in larger areas. For that, sufficient funds should be provided by the state governments. The crew members and local community should participate actively for combating forest fire to safe guard forest for generations. The departments should use remote sensing and GIS technologies during fire season.”
While the course director of the training Dr Neelu Gera, emphasized on advance preparation for mitigation of forest fires especially in the Himalayan regions.
Dr A K Gupta, Professor from NIDM said, “Mix group of forest officers and officers of the paramilitary forces would be best preference in managing forest fires especially in difficult areas and FRI is playing a very good role in organizing such capacity building programmes”
As per FRI officials, the expansion of population near forest areas can cause forest fires which can damage lives and properties of the people during fire season. The normal fire season in India is from the month of mid March to mid June. Uttarakhand witnessed the most severe forest fires in the recent time during April and May of 2016 year.
To enlighten the participants on the issue lectures of faculties from institutes like Uttarakhand forest department, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Forest Survey of India, National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi, Uttarakhand State Disaster Deptt, NDRF and FRI will be organized in the 5 day training.