A fire watcher creating fire line to prevent spread of jungle fire.
By Ramesh Marulkar :
Nagpur Forest Circle comprising Gondia, Bhandara, Nagpur and Wardha districts has recorded a significant reduction in fire cases and damages to precious trees this year during the fire season in summer from February to June. Bhandara district has been ranked first as only two fire incidents occurred by burning trees, bushes and grass in 4.438 hectares of forest area during the period whereas Nagpur district registered 22 fire cases, damaging 26.30 ha of forest area. Then comes wardha district where 29.91 ha area got damaged in 11 fire cases.
In Gondia district, 139 fire cases occurred, reducing vegetation in 247.601 ha to ashes. A comparative study with the year 2019 fire season revealed that 142.745 ha area was gutted in 75 fire cases in Wardha district and 839.57 ha area got damaged in 209 cases in Nagpur district. Bhandara district had registered 139 cases in which 541.21 ha was burnt while 320 cases occurred in Gondia district, reducing forest to ashes in 495.086 ha area. This shows a remarkable decrease in the number of fire cases (77 per cent reduction), as well as area burnt (85 per cent reduction) during 2020 fire season. This was disclosed by P Kalyan Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forest (Territory), Nagpur, while talking to ‘The Hitavada’ on Tuesday. He said that the department made strategic planning by studying fire alerts received during the last five years. The sensitive maps were prepared for all the four forest divisions and the same were distributed to field staff members from range level to beat level.
One of the effective initiatives was setting up of 24x7 fire response units and deploying them at fire vulnerable areas so that the teams can reach the fire spot within 20 to 25 minutes. Presence of such units in the vulnerable areas developed a sense of fear among persons kindling fires for Tendu, Mahua and other purposes as well as among the forest criminals. Therefore, they avoided kindling fires because the Forest Department straightway sends such persons to jail through courts. Such cases occurred in respect of the trespassers with evil designs in Ambazari Biodiversity Park, Kalyan Kumar pointed out.
The department gave stress on creating awareness about loss to flora and fauna due to fires among the villagers by organizing meetings of Joint Forest Management Committees as well as through field staff members and sought their cooperation in protection of forest from fires. Similarly, it used to get information through intelligent gathering and utilised secret service fund to nurture informer network. Moreover, the department completed the work of fire line cutting and burning in fire prone areas by February 15 in order to separate one portion of the jungle from the other so that fire would not spread. The members were equipped with GPS, fire blowers releasing high speech air throwing combustible materials helping in extinguishing fire, he added.
Kalyan Kumar said that the department took up a programme on pilot basis in Gondia and Nagpur districts this time to distribute nylon nets to selected villagers for clean pick of Mahua flowers that resulted in reduction in fire cases. Moreover, it is also less time consuming process because the locals have to just collect flowers from the agro-nets. Previously man-animal conflict cases used to occur due to bending and passing of long time in jungle. Another fire protection measure was taken about daily monitoring of fire alerts through Forest Fire Monitoring Patrol at division and circle levels. Kalyan Kumar appreciated the sincere efforts put in by forest workers, field staff members to Deputy Conservators of Forest level in saving the open treasure from perishing in the fires.