Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology has recommended a national policy on managing and curbing forest fires.
This move has come following the committee’s latest report on ‘forest fires and its effect on the environment, forests, biodiversity and wildlife’, which revealed that there has been about 55 per cent rise in forest fires.
The report, submitted on 16 December 2016, mainly focuses on the prevention of fires, especially in the Himalayan forests that stretch across the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
Findings of the Committee
• The number of forest fires has touched 24817 in 2016, in comparison to 15937 in 2015.
• A total of around 17502 acres of land has been destroyed this year due to the spread of the forest fire.
• The increase is alarming, as 2015, which was in fact considered a drought year, had seen about 16 percent fall in the frequency of the blazes.
• The three states that contribute about one third to the total number of forest fires are Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chhatisgarh.
• Out of these, Madhya Pradesh alone has seen almost a 10-fold increase in forest fires, from 194 in 2015 to 2600 in 2016.
Recommendations of the Committee
• The committee recommended the framing of a national policy to manage forest fires.
• It also suggested clearing the forests of Chir pine needles, as according to the report the inflammable needles play a huge role in the spread of forest fires.
• To ensure the same, the report suggested the use of sweeping machines to clear Chir pine needles from the roadside. The report also suggested alternative usage of pine such as fuel.
• Apart from this, the committee has also suggested the replacement of pine reserve forest areas with broad leaf plants.
• It has also observed that there are a number of front line forest staff posts that are lying vacant.
The committee was formed following a series of destructive forest fires, of which one destroyed almost 4000 hectares of forest land, stretching across 13 districts of Uttarakhand.