PAKISTAN: MANSEHRA: The wildfire that erupted at Koh-i-Bahra here in the city damaged flora and fauna at a large scale but ironically the Forest Department didn’t even attempt to extinguish the fire that raged for over 36 hours.
“I am surprised that this fire rapidly spread all around and burnt trees and smashed wild creatures in this forest but none of government departments came forward to put it out,” Mohammad Jabran, a local resident, told reporters. The fire erupted on Sunday and continued until Monday while the flames could be seen from several areas of the city.
Mansehra city is located at bed of Koh-i-Bahra and a bypass road also passes through it but even then the fire couldn’t be extinguished. It destroyed a large part of the forest.
Kala Khan, the chairman of the Anti-Corruption Committee of the district council, said he was not in a position to say if the Forest Department or anybody else was behind all that but in such a wildfire officials of Forest Department were involved for hiding traces of illegally cut timber for smuggling. “Officials of the Forest Department are mostly behind such wildfires as they want to disfigure bottoms of illegally cut timbers,” he said.
Kala Khan said that he had taken the case of large scale deforestation in Kaghan valley and here in city with chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and secretary forest, but no action was taken. “I will also take up the issue of wildfire at Koh-i-Bahra with the secretary forest and ask him to initiate an inquiry against those involved this sabotage,” he said.
Riaz Khan, the forest officer for Siran division, told this scribe that it was an act of landlords who put the place on fire for fresh grass. “This forest neither falls in reserved, nor in Guzara forests category, but even then we extinguished the fire,” he said
The divisional forest officer (DFO), when asked that the trees grown in that forest were not owned by government, said that those also belonged to landowners.