Forest fires are back in South Karnataka

A fire in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary destroyed around 15 hectares of forest, near Netkal village, in Mandya district late on Thursday.  

The scorching summer heat has brought to the fore the scourge of forest fire and sporadic incidents have been reported from South Karnataka during the last 24 hours.

Fires have been reported in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, MM Hills territorial division, and on the outskirts of Bandipur with officials engaged in dousing it.

A fire in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary destroyed around 15 hectares of forest near Netkal village, Malavalli, of Mandya district late on Thursday.

However, sources in the Forest Department said the actual extent of damage was yet to be ascertained and it could be more.

The flames have destroyed several hundreds of trees, shrubs and dry vegetation and a survey would be conducted to ascertain the damage, sources said. The Fire and Emergency Services personnel successfully prevented the fire from spreading to Hanur and Sathanur ranges. It is suspected that an explosion/spark from an electricity transformer in the area may have caused the fire.

Meanwhile, in the adjoining MM Hills, the authorities are grappling with the local superstitious beliefs of the community that lighting fire helps ward off their misery. The villagers during their visit to the shrine at MM Hills tend to light a small fire along the pedestrian path. This can result in a major conflagration if not checked.

“Hence, we have deployed most of our fire watchers in the territorial division of MM Hills forests,” said Deputy Conservator of Forests V. Yedukondalu.

However, there has been no fire as on date in the MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which witnessed large-scale devastation last year and bore the brunt of the fire season, saw a minor conflagration at the forest edge on Friday and it was put out within half an hour of being reported.

T. Balachandra, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said they have deployed nearly 1,000 staff, including daily wagers, recruited for the fire season that lasts from January till the onset of southwest monsoon. “We are preoccupied in putting out fires that are lit by farmers on private farmland — as part of their agricultural activity — along the forest periphery. But this tends to spread and consume large swathes of forests and more than 95% of the fire reported in Bandipur is started by burning of weeds and agricultural residue,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 5:42:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/forest-fires-are-back-in-south-karnataka/article31063722.ece

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