Forest fires ring alarm bells as govt seems unaware 


Srinagar: Various forest areas across Kashmir Valley have been damaged over the past few days due to a massive blaze that is continuing with officials still clueless about how to control the raging fires. 

Reports said that a massive fire broke out in Nowroz Baba forests of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Saturday.

As per the reports and eye witnesses, the fire broke out in the 25th compartment of Pathribal forests of Pir Panjal mountain range in Nowroz Baba forest area in Tangmarg division.

“As soon as the fire broke out, we rushed to the spot to use preventive measures to stop the fire, but we couldn’t stop it as the fire had spread its wings,” said Anayat Ali, one among the eye witnesses.

As per the reports, from past few days, the fire broke out in the different forest areas of the valley, which has led to the destruction of vegetation.

“There is no case of any natural fire in the Valley so far, it is because of the drought and negligence of the people that certain incidents take place. We have deployed our team for the surveillance and to ascertain the cause of the fire,” Controlling Officer Forest Fire, Nisar Ahmad Dardi said.

Meanwhile, officials said that the massive fire that broke out in Handwara’s forest area and Tral Shikargah forest is rapidly spreading to the other forests across the Valley.

However, the authorities have so far failed to bring the situation under control, resulting in spreading of fire to other forest areas.

On Saturday, fire engulfed a huge forest area in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, damaging the vegetation.

Reports said the fire broke out in compartment number18 and 19 of the forest division on Friday and engulfed massive a large area.

The fire has already spread to the various forest areas including Bandipora, Kangan (Wangath), Anantnag, Tral and Kupwara (Zagipora).

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Bandipora, Abdul Majeed Malla said that the officials are on job to douse to the fire while as some volunteers are also helping in bringing the situation under control.

A police spokesman said that police along with SDRF, forest officials and volunteers are trying their best to control fire spread in the forests of Bandipora.

“Around 150 men of Bandipora Police and SDRF including officers and jawans have been pressed into service by District Police to help forest officials and other volunteers to take control of the fire that had engulfed Bandipora forests in the compartments No’s 109 and 110 since Thursday evening,” a police spokesman said.

Conservator of forests North Circle Irfan Rasool Wani said that the fire was triggered by the dry spell that Kashmir witnessed this winter.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that all the departments are on high alert to make sure that the situation is brought under control.

She also said that the forest department and the volunteers are working tirelessly to douse the flames in forest areas and have succeeded in partially dousing it.

“Forest department and volunteers are working tirelessly to douse the forest fire in Bandipora, Kangan, Anantnag and other affected areas. They have succeeded in partially extinguishing it. All departments are on high alert to make sure that the situation is brought under control,” she tweeted. (with inputs from KNS)

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