Nandi Hills out of bounds for fire tenders

Nandi Hills out of bounds for fire tenders

Topography, forest patches making area a difficult terrain to access

Nandi Hills out of bounds for fire tenders

It has become a daunting task for fire tenders to reach Nandi Hills whenever a fire breaks out due to the topography of the region.

The Forest and Horticulture departments are finding it difficult to check and control fires because fire tenders are unable to reach the site on time. In fact, fires broke out in the region in the past three days but officials remained mute spectators as shrubs, small trees and wildlife were destroyed in the blaze.

According to official sources, fire breaks out once or twice a week and they blame poachers, local villagers and ‘irresponsible’ tourists for igniting dry bushes. However, cases have not been booked against offenders till date.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Deep J Contractor, Chikkaballapur district Deputy Conservator of Forest, said that local villagers ignite fire during night hours due to ‘vengeance or under the influence of alcohol’. Also, tourists throw lit matchsticks and cigarettes into the dry forest patches which easily trigger a fire. Staff crunch for strict vigil is also a drawback.

She explained that it is very difficult to control fire because of the terrain.

Fire tenders cannot climb the hill and travel through forest patches. Temporary forest watchers are sometimes hired to douse fire manually with leaves and mud, she added.

On Sunday and Monday, even temporary forest watchers were not present on site to douse the fire. No forest, horticulture department or police officials were seen en route to the hill, where fire was spreading and keeping people at bay.

Some tourists even parked their vehicles to take photographs of the fire.

The route to Nandi Hills, up to fort gate, is a protected territorial forest spread across 40 acres. The area surrounding the hill, spread across 60 acres is also forest land.

The hilltop from the gate, including the Tipu Drop, view points, hotels, restaurants, temples and green patches, spread across 71 acres, is under the control of the Horticulture department. 

Another reason for uncontrolled fires could be departmental dispute. Forest and Horticulture departments point fingers at each other for their inability to curb this problem. Nandi Hills is home to many wild species such as leopards and sloth bear cubs, reptiles, birds ans other herbivores.

‘Station fire tenders ’
N Ramesh, Special Officer, Horticulture Department (Nandi Hills) said that  along with the Forest department, a proposal has been made before the state government to station a fire tender and instal fire extinguishers at least five locations in Nandi Hills to immediately douse fire. They have also sought additional staff to mitigate fire crises as staff crunch is a major hiccup in both the departments.

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