'Forest fire reports exaggerated'

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden B K Singh has denied reports that over 3,000 hectares of forest area had been gutted  due to the recent fire in Bandipur and Nagarhole.

Singh, who conducted a spot inspection, said that the figures are exaggerated. In his report after a visit to Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves he said that the forest patch burnt in Bandipur is 128 hectares, where the miscreants set fire at 26 places all over the park. “This also includes fire in a series of teak plantations adjoining Kalkere Forest Rest House, which spread due to heavy wind, while controlling fire on February 19.”

In the remaining 25 places, the PCCF said that fire was set by different groups such as cow herds, villagers and firewood collectors.  

Three persons have been arrested in this connection and FIRs have been registered in four incidents.  

“Forest staff, along with fire watchers, have geared up and extinguished fire in all cases.

Except the case of Kalkere fire, the extent of forest burnt in remaining incidents range between half a hectare and seven hectares” he said.

 The PCCF in his report said that barring 430 hectares in Nagarahole Range, the fire in remaining 25 places (353 ha) in other Ranges has been ground fire,  set by villagers and other miscreants moving on the fringes of the Park.  

“These areas did not have dry and flowered bamboo and therefore no big damage in terms of flora, fauna and other bio-diversity”, the report added.

He said the loss has been more in the Nagarhole range causing loss of reptiles, eggs, amphibians, insects and other creatures. 

“Though all dry bamboo along with the regeneration in the area are burnt, we hope that rhizome of bamboo would sprout profusely, with the onset of monsoon.  The burning of lantana in these areas is welcomed,” the report said.

According to the report, 134.6 hectares of forest in Metikuppe range in Nagarhole tiger reserve has been burnt. As many as 137.2 hectares of Anechowkur, 55.2 hectares of D B Kuppe, 11.4 hectares of Veeranahosahalli and 11.2 hectares of Kalahalli forest have been burnt. 

The department has said that the fire in Nagarahole Range is a deep-rooted conspiracy, which is being investigated separately.

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