Hyderabad: A shocking 95 per cent of forest fires in Telangana state are said to be man-made.
Around 2,530 stretches of road passing through forests have become triggers for forest fires because of tourists cooking beside the road. This is why the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, located on the Srisailam highway, has seen among the most number of fires in the state.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (IT) P. Raghuveer told this newspaper that fires in Telangana forest areas are mainly ground fires. “More than 95 per cent of the fires are man-made in Telangana state. Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection is the major cause, followed by the negligent acts of shepherds, nearby villagers and travellers. Ground fires cause widespread damage to the ground flora and the regeneration which is being protected under Telangana ku Haritha Haram as part of our endeavour to get 80 crore seedlings established in the forest through aided natural regeneration. Deliberate burning of forest areas for obtaining a fresh flush of Tendu leaves is another major source of forest fires.”
He said that fires are also set deliberately for collection of Mohwa flowers and the negligence of shepherds leads to accidental forest fires. Travellers through the forest, both local villagers and tourists also contribute to forest fires through their negligence by not extinguishing the fire after they have done their cooking.
To educate the public about the causes and dangers of forest fires, warning boards have been erected along roads listing the do’s and don’ts.
According to the AP forest Act 1967, a person convicted of setting fire in a forest can be punished with imprisonment up to one year and payment of compensation for the damage caused.
Under Section 22 of the TS Forest Act, all forest rights holders and all government employees are bound to assist forest and police officials in fire intimation and suppression, failing which they are liable for imprisonment for one month.
Teams have been deployed to ensure no cooking fires are made inside forest areas by tourists.
Most important of all, citizens must realise the importance of natural resources of this country and feel responsible for their protection. That is the surest way to stop the shocking destruction of our forests.