ONGOLE: The state forest department has adopted a technology developed by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) that can alert officials when there is a fire mishap.
The technology uses satellite imagery, and relays information about the location of the fire mishap to range officers almost immediately via SMS alerts, thereby helping the authorities in arresting the maximum damage.
The department has already taken help from the satellites twice in the last few days, officials said. The technology is crucial for the state as the forest fires are a common phenomenon in the Nallamalas between March and May. The FSI, headquartered at Dehradun in Uttarakhand, is a Government of India body that monitors the changing situation of land and forest resources.
All divisional forest officers are directly linked with the FSI network, and will get information about an incident with clear pictures and accurate location. The field staff will then be alerted who will rush to the spot and take up fire fighting.
Apart from depending on the satellites, the department also has in place more traditional means to stop the fire accidents in the Nallamallas. The Markapur division deploys over 100 fire watchers on contract basis from January to May.
Rangers, DRO's, section beat/assistant beat officers, rescue team staff and local volunteers are engaged to help the fire watchers in their job. Thirty volunteers are tasked with collection of plastic waste, houdehold articles or other items dumped by tourists/visitors.
Markapur DFO M Babitha said: "Every summer we hire local youngsters as fire watchers and divide them into groups so that they can inform us immediately if they notice a fire accident. Even now 100 such volunteers are on the job, and a total of Rs 29 lakh was spent on view lines and fire lines in the thick forest areas. While the view lines were established in 50 locations, fire lines were laid on a stretch of 250 km in the Markapur division."