AP witnessed 63,570 incidents of forest fires, burning 45,512 hectares in the last five years -- between 2017 and 2021. Twitter
Vijayawada: As day temperatures started rising, AP is witnessing forest fire incidents especially in parts of Rayalaseema area while forests in north Andhra regions are relatively safe due to low temperature and prevalence of foggy conditions during the early hours of the day.
AP reports incidents of forest fires from November every year and they reach the peak stage during the hot summer in the next April- May.
Data available with the forest authorities show that in the last three months beginning from November 2021 to January 2022, as many as 131 forest fire incidents were reported. This caused the burning of nearly 48.21 hectares -- against 367 incidents of forest fire, burning 291.73 hectares from November2020 to January2021.
Compared with the last season, the incidents of forest fire are relatively less in the current season, giving some relief to the forest authorities.
This season, Narsipatnam division reported 23 fire incidents with the burning of 3.08 hectares of forest area. However, Anantapur and Kadapa divisions reported 17 incidents each with 14.60 hectares burning. This was followed by 12 incidents in Markapur, 11 in Kurnool, seven in Proddatur and 14 in Kakinada division.
Forest authorities say that following heavy rainfall this time, there was massive growth of grass in the forests. With day temperatures rising, the grass was getting dried and catching fire. This led to the burning of several hectares of forest and the authorities are expecting the number of forest fires to rise in March and April, especially in the coastal districts.
They are taking up fire tracing operations by cutting the grass that has grown up to a height of three metres and creating fire lines to prevent the spread of accidental fires. They are also taking up awareness drive among tribals in fringe villages along with several NGOs and other stakeholders on the measures required for control of fires, by organising training programmes, Kala Jatara and rallies.
Careless throwing of burning beedis and cigarette butts and intentional burning of forests for encroachment to set up illegal dwelling by some tribals and others are a cause of concern to the forest officials, who are trying to curb such illegal practices by penalising the villagers.
AP Fire Monitoring Cell nodal officer and DFO Ravisankar Sharma said, "We are taking all requisite steps to control forest fires and also attending to fire incidents promptly to minimise the extent of areas getting burnt."
The forest authorities have come up with an action plan to seek funds from the AP state disaster response fund and take up capacity building programmes among stakeholders to prevent forest fires and protect forests.
Meanwhile, AP witnessed 63,570 incidents of forest fires, burning 45,512 hectares in the last five years -- between 2017 and 2021.