Karnataka

Forest fires: handiwork of miscreants suspected

The Forest Department suspects the handiwork of a few miscreants in the outbreak of a fire in the Antharsanthe range of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and in the Mysuru territorial forests.

The fire at Antharsanthe was first noticed around 3 p.m. on Wednesday and the department staff were at the site throughout the night and also on Thursday to douse any embers that could stoke another fire.

The authorities are on a state of high alert following the outbreak and Mahesh Kumar, director of the tiger reserve, said it was the handiwork of miscreants. The Forest Department personnel from the region and the adjoining ranges and volunteers besides staff of the nearby resorts worked together to douse the fire and bring it under control..

He said it took a coordinated effort and nearly 2 hours to bring the flames under control. “It was basically a ground fire and we suspect that about 20 hectares of vegetation was burnt in the process.’’

This was the first fire of some significance during the current dry season and the authorities are bracing for a long haul ahead as the threat and scourge of the forest fire looms large till the onset of the pre-monsoon showers sometime during mid May.

With the day-time temperatures soaring, the Forest Department is bracing to cope with any fire outbreak and has taken the necessary precautionary measures including deployment of additional staff.

But given the dry deciduous nature of the forests in Nagarahole, Bandipur, BRT Tiger Reserve and MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, such preparations only help in reducing the damage and cannot avert a fire altogether.

In the adjoining Mysuru territorial division, there was fire in territorial forests at Konanur that devastated vast tract of vegetation before it could be brought under control. This too has been attributed to the machinations of miscreants and the authorities believe it was deliberate rather than accidental.

This is because the forest staff discovered that the moment they were able to bring fire under control in one part of the forest, there would be fresh outbreaks elsewhere and this was the third fire reported from the same forests during the current season which reinforces the suspicion that it was deliberately stoked, say the officials.

Though forest fires are a regular feature there are concerns that repeated fires could degrade the habitat in the long run as the top soil would be destroyed. Besides, repeated fire would impede the growth and nurturing of fresh vegetation making the landscape barren or overrun by weeds that would be unedible for the herbivores which constitute the prey for carnivores.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 1:01:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/forest-fires-handiwork-of-miscreants-suspected/article33991758.ece

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