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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: After Similipal, large parts of forested areas in Odisha continued to report wildfires putting the State forest officials on their toes.

It has been more than two weeks since a major forest fire broke out in adjoining Kuladiha Sanctuary in Nilgiri and Boudh Forest Division causing a major concern for the State administration to bring the flames under control.

According to locals, more than 40 fire events were detected in these forest areas. The fire services personnel and forest department staffers are putting an all-out effort to control the wildfire but in vain. Locals have also come forward to extend a helping hand in dousing the flames, but the blaze is yet to be subdued.

According to locals, jungle mafia and hunters are responsible for the fire in the forest.

Similarly, Kaliapata village jungle under Mohana Forest Range in Gajapati district also reported fire.

According to reports, road communication from Mohana to Paralakhemundi has been disrupted due to the blaze.

Fire officers suspect the blaze could have erupted due to the age old practice of the local people to set the forest on fire while collecting Mahua flowers.

"Usually, the Mahua flowers are collected from the forest ground in March-April when the flowers shed on their own. However, dry leaves cover the flowers and villagers burn them to separate the Mahua flowers, which are not affected by the fire," said a forest official.

"This practice by locals causes massive fire in the forests, thus posing serious threat to the flora and fauna of the forest," he added.

In another wildfire incident, a blaze reportedly broke out in Bramhapur forest under Krushna Prasad Block in Ganjam district.

According to locals, the fire started after a high voltage 33KV electric wire snapped. Fire brigade personnel are yet to reach the spot which is situated in an island in Chilika.

A large number of full-grown acacia and cashew nut trees have been gutted in the massive fire.

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