PATHANAMTHITTA: Forest department officials in Pathanamthitta have pulled up their socks to prevent incidents of forest fire, which normally begins in January. The officials are taking several measures to prevent forest fire with the help of tribal residents who are experts in controlling them and also play an important role in the mitigation efforts.
The officials have started creating firebreaks or fire lines between forest areas and human settlements to prevent the spread of fire from the houses and roads to the forest. The officials are also carrying out controlled burning in forest areas having higher probability of fire outbreak due to the presence of dead grass. Besides, activities of the “fire gangs”, which mainly comprise members of tribal communities, are being strengthened.
“The forest fire season starts in January and ends by June-July. We have already started creating fire lines and controlled burning. A 5-m-wide fire line has been made on the periphery of forest areas, separating the jungle from the road and human settlements, by clearing the vegetation in between.
This will prevent any fire from spreading from the road or human settlements to the forest,” said Goodrickal forest range officer Money S. “During summer season, grass growing on the rocks in the forest dries and there are high chances of it catching fire.
So, we burn the grass under strict monitoring. This is controlled burning,” he said. Fire gangs comprise tribal people living in and around the forest, he said. “If there is any fire, they will take immediate steps to douse the fire and inform the officials concerned,” he said. The forest department has also set up one district-level control room each in the Konni and Ranni forest divisions.