Kerala

Wildfire spreads to more areas of Pampadum Shola

Damage to flora and fauna suspected

Even as the authorities are trying hard to put out a wildfire that engulfed large areas of Munnar and Anchunadu forests, it spread to more areas of the biodiversity-rich Pampadum Shola National Park on the seventh day on Thursday.

The fire raging at Jendamala in Pampadum Shola had not been brought under control, sources in the Forest Department said.

Wildfire of such magnitude had hitherto never been reported in the area and heavy damage has been suspected to the flora and fauna on the western side of the environmentally sensitive Western Ghats.

The fire in the Kurinji sanctuary has put the spotlight on the Nilgiri tahr as its breeding season had just come to an end. An official said the fire in the sanctuary was under control.

As per an unofficial estimate, over 1,000 ha of forestland, grasslands, and grantis and eucalyptus had been destroyed in the fire. A team of about 250 members, including local people and Forest Department staff, were trying hard to control the fire raging at various locations. Department sources said the counter-measures had been found ineffective due to the topography of the area and the fire moving in various directions.

“The eucalyptus and grantis trees easily catch fire making the area inaccessible. The only counter measure is to create a tree wall by felling the trees and clearing the fire lines,” he said.

Fire man-made

Georgy P.Mathachan, Field Director, Kottayam, on Thursday said the fire at Jendamala could be brought under control on Wednesday night.

However, he said there were chances of smoke and small fires in the creeks there. He said the fire was man-made and they were in search of the culprits.

The government had recently revoked the ban on tree felling in Devikulam taluk. However, the Devikulam Subcollector issued an order that only the grantis and eucalyptus cultivations in private land be felled after verification, for which applications had to be submitted in village offices.

It was feared that if the felling of grantis and eucalyptus in private land was allowed, plantations on government and revenue land would also be felled under its cover. It was suspected that the forests were set on fire on purpose to “force the authorities to lift the restrictions”.

On Thursday, cases were registered against two persons for allegedly triggering the fire.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 9:52:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wildfire-spreads-to-more-areas-of-pampadum-shola/article26739105.ece

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