JEYPORE: Precious flora and fauna perished after local miscreants set ablaze the sal reserve forest in Kusumi under Kotpad block of Koraput district on Wednesday. For the last few days, several forested areas under Jeypore and Koraput Forest Divisions have been set on fire by miscreants, evoking a strong resentment among environmentalists and wildlife protection groups in the region. Sources said as per tradition, local tribals and hunters go on a forest-burning spree after the Holi festival. This practice of burning forests, which is carried out in tribal areas to chase wild animals to the traps set up by locals, has caused major destruction of the green cover.
While the practice is being followed in tribal areas since a long time, Forest department has turned a blind eye to it. Sources said lack of monitoring and regular patrolling by local Forest officials has worsened the situation. The fires are fast spreading from one forest to another and causing a devastating effect on the green cover of the region.Environmentalists have alleged that the Forest department is yet to take any initiative to check the spread of fire and put an end to the illegal practice.
They said the Forest department should have organised awareness camps and sensitised locals in the tribal region against setting forests on fire before the month of March. However, the Forest officials did nothing to save the precious flora and fauna from getting destroyed, they claimed.The green activists also demanded that the Regional Chief Conservator of Forest should take stock of the situation and check further spread of the fires in the region. As per reports, wildlife, particularly small animals, are found fleeing forest areas of Narayanpatna, Bandhugam, Ramgiri, Dasmantpur and Nandapur to protect themselves from the fires and are straying into human habitations.