Fund crunch leads to scaled-down efforts to tackle forest fires : The Tribune India

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Fund crunch leads to scaled-down efforts to tackle forest fires

Fund crunch leads to scaled-down efforts to tackle forest fires


Ravinder Sood

Palampur, March 21

With the onset of summers and rise in mercury, the Forest Department has geared up its preparations to check forest fires. The department has begun its drive to educate residents on how to control forest fires.

Dept getting Rs 5 cr yearly against required Rs 50 cr

  • At present, over 30 per cent of the total forest area of the state is prone to fires. The high fire-risk pine forests are considered to be biotic climax forests and controlled fires are beneficial for their growth
  • The total area under pine forests, where controlled burning is required, is 1,50,000 hectares and preventive measures have to be carried out over 50,000 hectares of area across the state
  • The Forest Department requires Rs 50 crore for carrying out various control measures and to keep the fire risk at minimum level annually. However, it has been receiving only Rs 5 crore annually for the purpose

The pine forests in the lower hills of the state are especially prone to fires. The department has sought cooperation from residents who have been declared as “bartandar”, the users of forests by the government, to help control the fires.

Himachal Pradesh has one of the richest and most varied forests in northern India, particularly the Himalayan pines, which are highly valued for their superior quality of timber.

Sources told The Tribune that in the absence of adequate financial support from the state government for preventive measures, the Forest Department would not be able to take up the minimum preventive measures like controlled burning of forests and maintenance of fire lines. It would carry out controlled burning over a limited forest area in the state.

As per norms, controlled burning has to be carried out in at least one-third of the total forest area susceptible to fires. The total area under pine forests, where controlled burning is required, is 1,50,000 hectares and as such, preventive measures have to be carried out over 50,000 hectares of area.

Controlled burning enables to destroy the inflammable material, which gets accumulated on the forest floor. An estimated 2 tonnes of pine needle are shed in an area of one hectare of pine forest annually. As the mercury rises in summer, the highly inflammable needles virtually transform the pine forests into tinder boxes.

At present, over 30 per cent of the total forest area of the state is prone to fires. The high fire-risk pine forests are considered to be biotic climax forests and controlled fires are beneficial for their growth. The uncontrolled blazes cause severe damage to soil, water, wildlife and the overall environment.

The Forest Department requires Rs 50 crore for carrying out various control measures and to keep the fire risk at the minimum level of annually. However, it has been receiving only Rs 5 crore annually for the purpose.

#Palampur


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