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Forest fires wreak havoc

S. Harpal Singh

Man-made fires damage vegetation and wildlife in Adilabad forests


Beedi contractors set fire to tendu plant for its leaves

Official advocates creation of fire-free areas in the forests


- PHOTO: S. HARPAL SINGH

Disastrous: A burnt tree in Indhanpalli range of Jannaram Forest Division is the tell-tale mark of wanton destruction of forests in Adilabad.

ADILABAD: Forest fires this summer have caused large scale destruction of trees and animal habitats in Adilabad district even as the attention of the protectors seem to be diverted by elections on hand. These man made fires seem to be extensive this year, eating up the regenerating flora and driving away wildlife from their natural habitats in the process.

A senior officer from the Forest Department says the fires are illegally lit up by beedi leaves contractors. “Instead of ‘shakh tarashi’ or pruning of the branches of the tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) plant, the contractors take the easy way out by igniting fires”, he points out.

“The fires cause loss of miscellaneous growth and available fodder besides destroying fodder seeds that germinate naturally in the forests. New leaves may sprout but the tendu plant does not bear any fruit due to the fires. Have you recently seen the tasty abnoos fruit with medicinal value in the markets”, questions the officer, driving home the point.

In order to limit the damage caused by forest fires every year, the department takes up fire line tracing that involves controlled burning of the dry leaves. Such an act ensures that young forest generation is protected and there is enough fodder for the animals in the wild. Uncontrolled fires that are plaguing the forests now pose a threat to birds that lay eggs on ground, some herbivores, reptiles, rodents and insects of many kinds.

“Budget constraint is the main reason for the department not taking up the fire line tracing. It has been taken up in some parts of Kawwal Wildlife Sanctuary, which constitutes only a small effort to protect the forests”, the officer adds. The only way to protect the environment is by creating fire free areas. “All the life in it will come back in just one year of creation of a fire free area. Protection from fires and curbing of biotic interference will create beautiful forest in no time”, assures the veteran officer. It may be mentioned that the forest fires aid germination of teak. The fire burns the hard pericarp of the teak fruit and also the hard outer coat of the five seeds in a fruit.

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