In an attempt to further their efforts to check forest fires in the Tirupati forest division, the officials of forest department wrote to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams requesting them to appoint three to four forest w a t c h e r s on every one kilometer stretch on the Tirumala ghat road.
Last year, as many as four fire accidents were reported near Tirumala first ghat road near the 7th mile where forest in a stretch of 57 hectares was reduced to ashes.
Of the 12 forest divisions in the state, only Tirupati forest division recorded a decline in the number of forest fires this year.
The number of forest fires rose to 2,357 last year in the state compared to 1,113 the previous year according to a report of the Andhra Pradesh forest department.
But the accidents in Tirupati division showed a declining trend with only 159 forest fires in 2012 compared to 205 in 2011 with several measures taken up by the chief conservator of forests (Tirupati Wildlife circle) PV Chalapathi Rao and divisional forest officer T Chakrapani.
Speaking to Express, Chakrapani said to closely monitor the movements in the forest area, special watch squads were deployed, which will also help in alerting the officials about any fire mishap so that action can be initiated to restrict the spread of fire.
He said they wrote a letter to the TTD joint executive officer requesting him to appoint three to four forest watchers for every one kilometre stretch to monitor forest fires and inform officials.
As the ghat road stretches over nearly 35 km, he said there is a need to appoint 150 forest watchers and couple of co-ordinating officials.
Prime importance was being given to Seshachalam hill ranges which has rare wood species of red sanders, he said.
Most of the forest fires in Tirupati division are being created by red sanders smugglers to mislead forest officials, he said.