Beneficiaries duty bound to help curb forest fires

A representative image of forest fire   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangements

Telangana Forest department’s resolve to fight against the forest fires towards making 2018 as ‘Zero Forest Fire Year’ may be a cause of concern for villages abutting the woods.

The department plans to invoke the provisions of the Indian Forest Act 1927 and TS Forest Act 1967 to penalise not only those who cause the fire either deliberately or by negligence, but also those who do not alert the forest or police officials or assist them in extinguishing the fire and nabbing the culprits.

Though the comprehensive guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest call for strict enforcement of these legal provisions, not much attention has been paid to it in Telangana, officials from the department said.

Man-made fires

Despite 12,537 forest fire accidents being detected by satellites from 2004 to 2017, there was hardly any instance of offenders being punished, he said.

The department is of the firm view that majority of the forest fires were man-made.

A recent study has almost confirmed it, helping the officials zero in on 440 villages abutting forests where repetitive instances of fire were recorded.

Foresters believe that Tendu leaf and Mahua collectors tend to spark limited fires, which, when they go out of control, will spread within no time.

However, the question remains, if the law is enforced to the letter, who would be held as culprits.

Limited manpower makes it extremely difficult to nab offenders in the act, which is the major reason behind the low conviction rate.

There is every possibility in such a case, that the foresters may end up harassing villagers and traditional forest right holders in the name of enforcement.

The department plans to launch a publicity campaign about the legal provisions. Additionally, special counselling sessions would be held for shepherds, cattle rearers, beedi leaf contractors, Mahua flower collectors, honey collectors and others, officials said.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 4:58:25 AM |

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