Forest fires: Law to be tweaked for action on suspects

Forest fires: Law to be tweaked for action on suspects

Vast tracts of forest land were burnt in the recent massive fire at Bandipur Tiger reserve. PTI File Photo

Forest, Environment and Ecology Minister Satish Jarkiholi said the government would soon amend the Forest Act to hand out stringent punishment to those involved in setting fires in forests, like in Bandipur recently.

Jarkiholi told reporters here on Saturday that as of now, provisions in the Forest Act do not act as a deterrent to those involved in such acts. It has been noticed that local residents and those residing near the forests are responsible for the fires.

Amendments will soon be brought in, for stringent punishment and penalties to those involved in such acts.

The Forest Department will instal smoke detectors and other modern equipment to keep tabs on forest fires. Sites, where the equipment could be placed, have been identified and it will facilitate in controlling fire accidents and reduce loss of forest property, he said.

Jarkiholi said grasslands caught fire in Bandipur and the losses were not as severe as speculated. There was no loss of lives of animals and the pictures circulated were from foreign locations.

He said the Bhutramanhatti zoo in Belagavi will soon house two tigers and 13 other animals will be brought in the next two years. Bhimgad forests and other nature camps in Khanapur taluk have been opened for trekking. People will be made aware of the flora, fauna and trees, along with their medicinal use.