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540 fire incidents in 4 years: Haryana forest dept fears rise in forest fires this year

The field surveys of the damaged areas suggest acute warm weather, human negligence, deliberate fire aiming at fresh growth of grass etc. are the common reasons behind these incidents.

Written by Saurabh Prashar | Chandigarh |
Updated: April 10, 2021 9:40:56 pm
540 fire incidents in 4 years: Haryana forest dept fears rise in forest fires this yearThe Forest Department has concluded that in most of the incidents, fire tenders were not able to reach the epicentre of fire because of the tough terrain. (Representational Image)

AT LEAST 540 fire incidents were reported in the forest areas of Haryana damaging hundreds of acres of forest land in the last four years between 2016 and 2020. Out of these, 90 per cent fire incidents were reported in the forests of Panchkula, Ambala and Yamunanagar, situated in the foothills of Shivalik Hills.

Further, maximum fire incidents — 213 out of 540 — were reported in 2018-19. The minimum fire incidents — 81 out of 540 — were reported in 2017-18.

The field surveys of the damaged areas suggest acute warm weather, human negligence, deliberate fire aiming at fresh growth of grass etc. are the common reasons behind these incidents. Instances were also reported when the fire spread from the neighbouring hilly state, Himachal Pradesh, to state forests especially in Panchkula, Yamunanagar.

The Forest Department has concluded that in most of the incidents, fire tenders were not able to reach the epicentre of fire because of the tough terrain. Also, 95 per cent of these fire incidents were reported in the months of April, May, June and July, when summer remains on its peak. The vulnerable area is situated in northern Haryana.

The forest areas, which witnessed random fire incidents, included protected national park, Kalesar National Park, in Yamunanagar, wildlife sanctuaries included Bir Shikar Gha, Khol-Hai-Raitan, Morni forests in Panchkula, and the forests situated near the areas of Naraingarh, Raipurrani in district Ambala. A forest in Gurgaon also witnessed a fire incident, but less in severity.

“We have observed a set pattern of the fire incidents in the state in the last one decade. The pattern suggests that huge fire incidents reported in the first year and less fire incidents took place in the second year. For instance: 138 fire incidents reported in 2016-17. Next year, merely 81 fire incidents were reported in 2017-18. Similarly, 213 fire incidents reported in 2018-19. And next year, 108 incidents, which were less than the previous year, were reported in 2019-20. According to this pattern, we believe during the current year 2020-21, fire incidents will increase. We have started making a strategy,” PCCF, Haryana, VS Tanwar, said.

Tanwar clarified that though there is no scientific study to support this pattern, still we are taking it seriously.

Last week, a major fire broke out in the Morni forest near Bir Ghaggar in Panchkula damaging forest area and killing at least one blue bull.

Panchkula has the highest forest cover, which is 395 km including 150 km dense forest area and 239 km open forest area, in the state. It is around 31.15 per cent of the total forest area of Haryana. Yamunanagar has 189 km forest area including 21 km very dense, 86 km dense forest and 82 km open forest area.

Haryana has 3.59 per cent forest cover of its geographical area and the tree cover of the state is 2.90 per cent of the total geographical area. Both combined forest and tree cover of the state is around 6.49 per cent, as per Indian State of Forest Report, FSI, 2013.

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