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Kasauli forest on fire, officials question role of local people

Kasauli forest on fire, officials question role of local people

A massive fire that broke out in Kasauli hills recently.



Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 10

The state authorities had almost dialled Air Force and NDRF for help when a ravaging forest fire encircled Central Research Institute (CRI), Kasauli, a few days back. “We had almost made up our mind to requisition the services of choppers and NDRF to control the fire that had reached the CRI. However, the forest staff and other teams managed to contain the fire,” said DC Rana, Director, State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).

Asked why these options were not considered to douse the rampaging forest fires across the state, Rana said spraying water from choppers wouldn’t be too effective to control the forest fires in the state. “Besides, it’s a very expensive option,” said Rana.

As for calling in NDRF, Rana said it’s the last option.

Meanwhile, the forest officials claim that fires could have been controlled better if the local people had supported the forest staff as much as they used to do in the past. “Why aren’t people coming forward to contain or douse the forest fires? We are facing a situation where people merely call the forest department to report a fire but they do not assist the forest staff in controlling the fire,” said Rajiv Kumar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

Another forest official said that the reason for this indifference on the part of the local people could be the decreasing dependence on forests. “Earlier, people depended for a lot of things like fire wood, grass for cattle and several other things on forests. So, they would do their best to protect the forests. But now, with the decreasing dependence, many people do not seem much concerned,” he said.

Besides, the forest officials further claim that over 90 per cent fires are man-made, accidental or intentional. “People set fire to their ‘ghasanis’ to clear up grass, and this fire often spreads to the nearby forests, especially when the weather is dry. Also, people often throw away cigarettes or keep the small fires burning which result in forest fires,” said a fire official.

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