Goyla forest fire damages vegetation

Jammu: A fire broke out in Goyla forest of Bhadarwah division in Jammu and Kashmir resulting in damage to cedar trees and other vegetation, officials said yesterday.

The fire in the woodland in Chirala Range of Bhadarwah Forest Division erupted last night and has reportedly destroyed some cedar trees and regenerative saplings till this afternoon, they said.

“I have been informed by my team that they are on the job to douse the flames and to check the fire from spreading any further,” Divisional Forest Officer, Bhadarwah, T P Singh said.

“Only the new saplings have caught fire. As of now we are on the job and have taken preventive and precautionary measures to control the fire,” he said.

The DFO suspected that taking advantage of the persistent dry weather over the last one month, local grazers who come to the forest for firewood and fodder, may have set it on fire.

However, locals from adjoining Kencha village alleged foul play saying the fire was an insider’s job to cover up the illegal felling of trees in the forest.

Alfad Malik, a villager from Kencha Kahara hamlet, said the fire is still burning in Compartment 37 adjoining their village since last night but no forest officials tried to douse it until this afternoon.

“Forest officials always make lame excuses that grazers set the forest on fire so that next year there will be more grass for the cattle, which is completely wrong as there is hardly any vegetation for two years after fire,” he said.

Village Sarpanch and an environmentalist Chiralla Fazal Alam Wani alleged “this is a routine thing during this month (of the year) because taking advantage of the dry weather, forest officials themselves ignite the fire as illegal cutting of trees is rampant in this area.”

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