Forest dept steps up vigil to tackle fire mishaps

Forest dept steps up vigil to tackle fire mishaps

While a vast expanse of vegetation at Veeranahosahalli and Metikuppe forest range, under Nagarahole National Park, was destroyed due to man-made forest fire, the Forest department personnel are on a high alert and are all prepared to avert similar mishaps.

As a precautionary measure, for the first time, modified two-wheelers are being used to douse fire inside the forest. Besides, new watchtowers and temporary fire stations have been set up, besides deploying additional watchers. In addition, fire lines are being created and also the patrolling system has been intensified across the forest region.

The national park, which covers 643 square km, has been divided into eight ranges and four two-wheelers to each range have been provided to check forest fire.

An official told DH that it has been decided to use two-wheelers fitted with a water tank and a sprayer as it is difficult for the SUVs and heavy firefighting vehicles to move inside the forest.

New watchtowers

In order to monitor fire in the forests, additional eight watch towers are being constructed at Veeranahosalli, Mettikuppe, and Anechowkur forest ranges. While two new towers are coming up at Veeranahosahalli and Anechowkur, four are being constructed at Mettikuppe. The Forest Department has hired nearly 300 tribal men as watchers to monitor the incidence of fire. The department has hired personnel in January and they will be on duty till April end. The tribal people of the hamlets on the fringes of the forest will be on duty from 9 am to 6 pm every day.

Rapid response vehicle

The officials have also stationed rapid response vehicles with necessary chemicals to douse the forest fire. As many as eight vehicles, each for one forest range, are ready to tackle the fire. Besides, three temporary fire stations have been set up each at Nagarahole, Veeranahosahalli, and Dammanakatte.

An official claimed that a majority of the fire cases are man-made.

"Some vested interest ignite the forests to take revenge and to create trouble for the Forest personnel. The Forest department personnel do not allow the people residing on the fringes of forests to graze cattle or to trespass. Thus, the people create a problem," he said.

Earlier, on February 6, the Forest department officials arrested one Kariya of G M Halli hamlet, in HD Kote taluk, for allegedly setting afire the forest at Veeranahosahalli and Metikuppe range, under Nagarahole National Park on January 15.

Copter for dousing fire

Conservator of Forests and Nagarahole Tiger Reserve Director S Manikantan said, "We are thinking to hire a helicopter during forest fires. It is possible to pour 4,000 liters of water at a time with the help of a copter. We have written a letter to the government, seeking permission to use a helicopter from the Army during an emergency. We are expecting a positive response from the authorities concerned," he said.

Out of 140 ponds in the national park, 100 ponds have sufficient water. In addition, the ponds are being filled with borewell water, he said.

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