In their bid to protect the green cover inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) from forest fires, authorities have already started working on the fire line. In order to extinguish forest fires, special teams of forest workers have been formed. The teams would be deployed at various forest ranges.
While the SGNP is divided into Tulsi, Krishnagiri, Yeeor and Tiger and Lion Safari Range, the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) is considered as one range. The fire line work has already commenced in these ranges. The forest department starts the fire line work by November every year and concludes it before February, as most of the blazes are reported by February-end. However, many cases are reported in March, during Shiv Ratri, as hordes of people visit shrines and temples located in SGNP and TWS.
SGNP Assistant Conservator of Forests, Sachin Repal, said, “The grass that grew during the rainy season has started drying, which increases chances of forest fires. In order to ensure that not much harm is caused to the forest, we have already started the work of fire line in our various ranges.”
Another official claimed that most of the fires reported were generally man-made. “A few people enter the forest illegally and torch small bushes. We have decided to conduct night patrol along with the daytime patrolling. If anyone is found responsible for starting a forest fire, stringent action would be initiated against that person,” the official said.
A team of 20 forest workers, aware of techniques to douse fires, would be posted at various ranges and be available 24x7. The moment the forest department control room is alerted about a forest fire, teams will rush to the location and bring the fire under control. A team of 20 forest workers was deployed at Loghut hill near Tulsi Lake and another team was posted near Gandhi hill last year, so that they could reach fire-affected areas without a delay.
A per the report prepared by the forest department from 2005 to 2010, more than 350 incidents of forest fires were reported in these five years, wherein 1,000 hectares of green cover was reduced to ashes. For the year 2012-13, 192 forest fires were reported at SGNP and TWS, leading to destruction of 277.107 hectares of pristine forest. Forest officials said the department suffered a loss of Rs 1.39 lakh in these fires.