Mangaluru: Hills in the Western Ghats turn picturesque during this time of the year with fog and clouds moving above them. The greenery and white clouds attract a lot of people.
But for the trekkers of Sahyadri Sanchaya, it was not a usual fog or the clouds that were seen atop the Barimale hill near Charmadi Ghat. It was the smoke due to a forest fire!
The trekkers, Dinesh Holla and team were on their way to Devaramane. While travelling on the Charmadi Ghat they saw smoke on Barimale hill. It was clear the forest on the hill had caught fire. What was more concerning for them was that the forest fire had started in the Western Ghats too early this year.
"This is too early for a forest fire to happen. Usually forest fires are seen during March, but they have already started by the second week of December. This is really concerning. In the months of November, December and January, we go to Western Ghats to enjoy the greenery. But this time we may have to see the ashes of a forest fire," Dinesh Holla told Deccan Chronicle.
"Previously, the forest fires started in February and last year it was in the beginning of January. This year it has advanced to the second week of December. In the coming days we may see forest fires in October itself!" he says.
Environmentalists have raised concern about the early forest fires and feel this could pose a danger not only to the flora and fauna but also to the water catchment areas.
"Fire consumes greenery and thus the flora and fauna are destroyed. The natural water catchments are also damaged. This would gradually harm the underground water and finally the rivulets in the region. Charmadi region has three major rivulets of Netravathi. Forest fire will harm the river water too," he added.
"Now we have seen the fire in Barimale. Within a few days this will happen in other places too. Though there are natural reasons for forest fires, in recent days we have seen that mostly human interference is responsible for this," he says.
"Most of the times the estate owners near the forests set fire to the grassland near their land. They do it either to extend their estate stealthily or to clear the wild growth.
This fire later spreads and becomes uncontrollable and consumes the forest," he says.