Focus on threat due to a man-made forest fire: Experts
Mumbai: The Draft National Forest policy focuses on preventing natural forest fires and upgrading the warning process but it makes no mention of the threat posed by man-made forest fires. In Maharashtra, which has the highest cases of forest fire registered in the country, environmentalists have claimed that most of the cases are of man-made fire incidents. The same has been observed in Mumbai and Thane.
The Draft National Forest Policy states, “Adequate measures would be taken to safeguard ecosystems from forest fires, map the vulnerable areas and develop and strengthen early warning systems and methods to control fire, based on remote sensing technology and community participation.” It also mentions that awareness will be created about causes and impacts of fire on forests and local livelihoods.
“Although there has been an acknowledgment on the increasing cases of forest fires, not much has been considered for the prevention of man-made fire in forests. In fact in forest areas of Raigad, there have been consistent cases of deliberate fire by arsonists. As such, apart from regular monitoring, we need better convictions for such miscreants,” said Godfrey Pimenta, Trustee of Watchdog Foundation. The organization has written to the state government stating that there have been over 250 instances of the forest fire in areas from Panvel to Ratnagiri destroying more than 1,000 acres of forest land over past few months.
As per the data submitted in the Lok Sabha last December, around 3,487 incidents of forest fire were recorded in Maharashtra alone in 2017.
While the policy has also highlighted on afforestation activities in the catchment areas for improving the health of rivers, not much focus has been given on the reasons behind the deterioration of these areas, claimed the NGO. “Apart from afforestation, there is an immediate need to check upon soil erosion and denudation in catchment areas of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs,” added Mr. Pimenta.