Himachal wildfires ruin plantations worth Rs 1.35 crore affecting 11,774 hectares till today
SHIMLA- The state Forest Protection and Fire Control wing that was created to protect forests from illicit felling of trees and fires is as good as defunct. Forest fires have destroyed or affected 11,774 hectares worth Rs 1.35 crore till today in the state. Reason: this wing has neither sufficient staff nor equipment.
According to The Tribune, forest fires this year destroyed or affected 11,774 hectares, including 6,856 hectares natural forest and 1,715 hectare plantations worth Rs 1.35 crore, in as many as 1,304 different incidents of forest fires reported from nine forest circles and three wildlife divisions in the state till today.
The worst-hit are forest circles of Nahan (3,851 hectare nature area and 282 hectare plantations in 279 forest fires), Shimla (622 hectare area most of natural forest in 103 fire cases ), Hamirpur (552 hectare natural and 652 hectare plantations), Dharamsala (476 natural and 197 hect plantations in 182 cases), Mandi (573 hectare natural and 173 hectare plantations in 239 cases), Bilaspur (276 hectare natural and 222 hectare plantation in 151 cases and Chamba (158 hectare natural and 50 hectare plantation in 90 incidents). The Kullu circle reported just four fire incidents involving just 84 hectares, revealed the data.
Both the posts of divisional forest officers of the FP and FC office based in Bilaspur had been laying vacant over the years as the Forest Department was least bothered. There were no supporting clerical staff as all four posts of clerks were vacant, while two superintendents were on long leave due to illness, confirmed top official.
The Forest Department has failed to dispel myths that forest is torched. Forests continue to be plundered by forest mafia and fire mongers who torch forest, mainly in the chir pine belt of Nahan, Solan, Mandi, Hamirpur, Shimla Dharamsala, for extracting resin as they believe trees yield more resin when on fire, reveal sources.
In the higher deodar and kail pine belt, fire mongers torch forests in a myth that the forest and ‘ghasnis yield more grass and fodder for the livestock. Even the forest mafia torch forests to destroy evidence of the stumps of the trees felled illicitly.
Photo: Representational image