Kashmir Witnesses Spike In Forest Fires 

SRINAGAR — The Kashmir Valley has witnessed frequent incidents of  fires which have left vast swathes of forests damaged. 

Early this year fire broke out in the upper reaches of Brein and Nishat which later spread  to Dachigam National Park and continued till several weeks. In January this year fire erupted in Zabarwan mountain range which engulfed 50-60 hectares of the forest cover and damaged its vast stretches. Incidents of fire have been also reported from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

In 2016, 71 forest fires were witnessed in Kashmir with areas of both north and south Kashmir reporting such incidents frequently. In  2015 49 fire incidents in forests took place  with north Kashmir reporting 24 of them. 

 A report of the forest department has suggested that the government should take some measures to prevent the forest fires in the state.

“There is a need of connectivity and the staff must be provided wireless sets, cell phones, mobility facilities  like pickup vans and proper gear to save themselves from any injury while extinguishing fires. Also there is a requirement of first aid kits for emergencies and tools for carrying out the fire control operations,” the report reads. “For quick action sufficient labour force and staff is required to be deployed. Arrangement of tools, food, water and lighting should be there as the process of fire extinguishing sometimes may take days together. The arrangement of transportation of men and material should be available,” it added.

Officials of forest department said that adequate manpower and equipment is lacking.  “The most common cause of forest fire is carelessness. Had government taken some measures such incidents could have been prevented,” said an official. 

The forest policy was approved in 2011 and was aimed at conservation of biodiversity and natural habitat through preservation of natural forests, but the government has not adhered to it.

 The recorded forest area is 20230 sq. kms, which constitutes 19.95 % of geographical area of the state and increasing incidents of fires is leaving vast covers depleted. 

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