MALKANGIRI :Vast tracts of forest are being ravaged by fire, damaging flora and fauna across Malkangiri district. Forest fires are a common phenomenon in summer but lack of preparedness to prevent large scale destruction has left the Greens and animal lovers worried.Of the total 5,791 sq km geographical area in the district, fire has been reported in 35,256 hectares of reserve forest land and 2,284 hectares of proposed reserve forest area. Even as several hectares of forests are going up in smoke every day, the Forest department is yet to put in place adequate measures to prevent it from devouring more areas.
Normally, the forest fires intensify in May but as it has engulfed large areas from early April, the strategy should be to minimise the losses, said officials. Fire has been reported from 1,900 places, including 300 spots, under six forest ranges of the district.Sources said fire starts early in the morning and continues to blaze through the night as well, leading to rise in temperature. With Malkangiri recording 40 degree Celsius in the last few days, the fire has only added to the discomfort.
Forest officials said while dry leaves catch fire easily during summer, the other worrying factor is that the villagers are setting forest on fire to vent their anger at the Forest department. Other reasons include disposing of burning bidis and cigarettes close to clumps of dry leaves.Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Srikant Nayak said hunters burn forests to bring animals out of their region and hunt those down. Despite repeated efforts to persuade them to abstain from such activities, the hunters continue with the illegal practice.
“The moment we get information on fire through satellite, a team member responds and rushes to the spot to douse the flame,” said Nayak. At least 10 fire watchers have been deployed on daily wage basis in every range office of the district to douse the fire, he said, adding that each range office has also been provided with three to four fire dousing machines.
On the other hand, Divisional Forest Officer Pradeep Mirase said, “at least 70 per cent of forest fire has been doused by our teams, who are well equipped to tackle blaze. But, we have failed to do so in the cut-off region.” Podu cultivation adopted by the people of Mudulipada on Bonda Hill is another reason for forest fire, he added.Reports of fresh fire at five points in Govindpalli area under Mathili forest range were received through satellite on Saturday. Teams have been rushed to the spot.