Role of timber, cattle mafia suspected in forest fire

Role of timber, cattle mafia suspected in forest fire

Forest roads turn into highways for illegal business: Vijayshankar

BJP leader C H Vijayshankar, also the former forest minister, insinuated that people involved in timber mafia and illegal cattle trade inside forests are contributing towards the forest fires at Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks.

Vijayshankar told reporters here on Sunday that a few smugglers from Kerala were involved in timber mafia inside the forests and were triggering forest fires. “The roads inside the forests have turned into highways for illegal business,” Vijayshankar said and urged the state government to conduct a thorough investigation and take severe action against the perpetrators.

Vijayashankar said that the high-voltage electric power line passing through the forests is a classic example of unscientific planning of the government agencies. The electric wires too cause forest fire, he said.

“Anti-social elements, lack of technology, training for personnel and indifferent attitude of the administration towards tribal people in the forest also pose a major threat. Tribals are an asset for forests and the real protectors of forests but unfortunately, a majority of forest officers are unaware of their contributions and brand them as destroyers. The forest department’s move of evicting tribals from the forests is destroying their bonding with nature,” he said. Vijayashankar said that forest department personnel lack knowledge about forests.

He said that drought and wildfire are interconnected. “While drought affects people, forest fire takes away the forest and wildlife. Lantana and weeds are the major challenges before the forest department. Major parts of the forest are covered by lantana,” he said.

Vijayshankar said 2,900 hectare of forest have been destroyed in 2012 and 2,150 hectare in 2015 but this time the figure is ten times higher.

BJP city unit president Dr Manjunath, rural unit president M Shivanna and others were also present.