SAMBALPUR: Recurring forest fire has led to degradation of the ecosystem in grasslands of the district. Around 35.62 hectare of forest land has been devastated in 116 incidents of forest fire this year. This apart, the non-forest area witnessed 111 incidents of fire destroying 35.93 ha in the district. Frequent forest fire has raised serious concern among the environmentalists and forest officials. Though the reasons behind forest fire may be many, the number of wildfire incidents has increased suddenly this year causing a huge loss to green cover in both forest as well as non-forest areas.
As per reports, reserve forest land of 66,500 ha comes under Sambalpur Division. Until April 14, as many as 116 fire spots were detected by the forest officials in reserve forest areas. Divisional Forest Officer of Sambalpur Sanjeet Kumar said though the team gets notified about the incidents through satellite signals, by the time they reach the spot, mostly the saplings and small plants get damaged. However, they manage to save big trees. Overall, 71.55 ha of land has been ravaged by 227 fire incidents so far in the division. In 2018, nearly 450 incidents of fire were reported in the reserve forest areas, he said.
“Mahua flower collectors and kendu leaf pluckers mostly set the forest on fire to clean the residuals. Though they have been directed to extinguish the fire after cleaning, they leave the spot in flames,” he added. While the fire is driving away wildlife from the forests besides destroying flora and fauna, experts are suggesting that the Forest department should intensify patrolling and spread awareness among the forest dwellers.