Over 7k ha of state’s forest damaged in fire since 2015

Over 7k ha of state’s forest damaged in fire since 2015

From 589 cases of forest fire in the state in 2015, it went up to 913 in 2016 and then to 925 in 2017. DH File photo

As much as 7,424.2 hectares, or 18,345 acres, of forests in the state suffered damage due to forest fires in the last three years, Forest, Ecology and Environment Minister R Shankar informed the Legislative Assembly in a written reply on Monday.

Incidence of forest fires has been increasing since 2015, according to Shankar. From 589 cases of forest fire in 2015, it went up to 913 in 2016 and then to 925 in 2017, Shankar said in response to a question by BJP’s K S Eshwarappa.

“The quantum of rainfall in the last three years has been less, as a result of which the atmosphere is largely dry. The fire department has been asked to keep vigil on reserved forest areas, especially tiger reserves. A fire tender has been deployed at Bandipur and Nagarhole and a quick response vehicle has been attached to the BRT wildlife sanctuary,” Shankar said. He also stated that FIRs will be lodged against miscreants who deliberately light fires in forests.

Between 2015 and 2017, the state saw 67,660 cases of crop losses suffered by farmers living around forests due to wild animals. Farmers had been paid compensation worth Rs 27.84 crore for the crop loss, Shankar said.

Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar told Shankar that Forest department was perceived as an ‘anti-people’ department. This remark came when Yeshvanthapura MLA S T Somashekhar (Congress) raised the issue of Forest department officials not allowing roads in his constituency to be asphalted.

“Just because the road passes through forest land, your officials are acting pricey. It’s been three years since permission was sought online,” he said. Several legislators pointed out similar problems in their constituencies. Kumar advised the minister to convene a meeting on this issue.

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