• otv
Suryakant Jena

Sambalpur: With incidents of forest fires on rise in Odisha, the forest authority of Sambalpur division has warned of stringent legal action against those found intentionally setting forest on fire.

DFO Sanjeet Kumar informed OTV that people found alight forest areas will be put behind bars without any delay. This apart, the official has also asked people to inform about such wrongdoers without any fear.

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The forest division administration has also created a provision of cash award of Rs 5000 for anyone who informs about people deliberating setting fire in forest areas.

"Mass awareness is being created and public has been appealed to cooperate with the forest department. Setting forest on fire is a punishable offence under the Odisha Forest Act and one(s) found guilty of such crime may be punished with a jail term of 3 to 7 years," informed the DFO.

Some people deliberately set fire in forests for Kendu leaves and some others for poaching and even for mischief at times. So in all such cases, stringent action will be taken.

Apart from 150 regular forest staff for guarding and wildlife tracking, 75 more forest personnel have been mobilised for fire-fighting operations in all the 5 ranges under the division from February 1 to June 30, informed Kumar.

Rangers have also been authorised to engage local residents if need arises in case of massive outbreak of fire in any forest area. Cash award of Rs 6000 will be given to each village which helps the forest authorities in fighting the wildfires.

As per FSI alert, fire has been reported from 67 spots in the division but most of them are under control. Our major concern is in cases where blaze breaks out in hilltops or else, the DFO said.

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