Himansu Shekhar Rout

With the onset of summer, forest fires are raging in various parts of the state. By April 17 this year, forest fires were spotted at 11,367 points, which is comparatively less than the corresponding period last year.

Speaking to the media, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Debidutta Biswal asserted, "99 per cent of the forest fires are manmade. The Forest Department has taken all possible steps to douse fires.”

He said that most of the manmade forest fires were spotted in Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada and Jeypore. He added that 370 fire squads with 330 vehicles have been deployed in the areas. 

“Taking the help of technology, we have registered mobile phones of 10,000 forest staff up to the guard level on the OMFS portal. We get immediate information about fire points through satellite,” he said.

It has been seen that people are setting fires to forests to collect mahua flowers, kendu leaves and for shifting cultivation, the forest official said, adding that immediate action is being taken, and about 100 cases are registered against culprits every year.   

The PCCF also stated that the Forest Department is sensitising people in forested pockets about the ill impacts and dangers of forest fires while a special advisory to prevent forest fires has been issued.

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