HYDERABAD: Adventure sports have caught on well among denizens looking for weekend getaways from the city, and upcoming holiday season is adding to the craze. However, officials are reminding enthusiasts that prior permission would need to be taken before venturing into restricted areas. The warning comes in the wake of Theni forest fire accident, in which 10 youngsters were killed. The youngsters had not obtained any permission from the forest department.
“Trespassing into reserve forest is not considered as a serious offence. And, as the forest is an open property resource, people think they can go anywhere and do whatever they want,” said Dr Sidhanand Kurtey, Chief Conservatory of Forest, Rangareddy District while emphasising that it is not correct.
“It is the bonafide duty of trek clubs to inform us before entering forests. It helps the Range Officer and beat officer, who know the terrain better, reinforce rescue operations in times of need. We will not be able to help them if they do not inform us. After all, the forest is not a small place,” Kurtey added.
Anantagiri hills, Kuntala waterfalls and Nagarjuna Sagar dam are the popular choices for weekend getaway among the youngsters, especially those working in the IT sector. However, wildfire is a common natural, sometimes manmade, disaster that happens in the forest and the risk only rises in summer when heat is high and leaves are dry. Dousing the flames become a challenge if the terrain is not motorable, add officials.
“The fire department is still not fully equipped. It does not have an aircraft to douse fire in core forest areas. Also, our fire extinguishing equipment have a maximum range of 300 metres,” said Jaipal Reddy, ADFO of Telangana Disaster Response and Fire Services Department. “In dire needs, if there are any water bodies near the place of fire, we carry a motor pump to douse the fire, but it happens rarely,” he observed. Websites marketing such trekking trips say they conduct background checks on guides offering these services.
Here are the other measures to be taken
New firelines to be created in all fire prone areas; old firelines will be maintained
Additional blowers to be procured as per local need
Base camp watchers and strike force members to be deployed in fire prone areas
Counselling of beedi leaf khalledars, BL Contractors and their agents be intensified
Shepherds, cattle owners & NTFP collectors also be counselled
All fire alerts to be immediately acted upon
Manpower including fire station personnel deployed to control forest fires