State Action Plan on Forest Fire

Forest fires are always taking place without reason or in simpler parlance, without a deliberate human hand. Whatever the reason, colossal loss of our green gold treasures takes place and if comparative figures of these ‘incidents’ are any indicators, they are pointing towards more than what meets the eye. Inthe year 2017, there were 113 forest fire alerts while the number jumped to as much as 742 in 2018 and within a period of five months of the current year, 35 fire alerts were received. Let a brief sketch be drawn as to the extent of damage and the resultant loss due to these frequent forest fires. In the year 2016, 6828 kanals of forest land suffered extensive damage and since the number of incidents are on the rise continuously, the enormity of damage and amount of material losses in net price could be well imagined which runs into hundreds of crores of Rupees. A cause of deep concern, indeed.
The scenario, undoubtedly calls for a comprehensive action plan, not merely a well drafted policy to adore files and cupboards of the State Forest Administration as a whooping 60000 kanals of forest land suffered voluminous and wide-ranging damage during the last three years only, let us not go in for losses suffered prior to the years 2016. The response of the State Government is as usual far from satisfactory even to this extent as not to have any regard for the directives of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest in respect of preparation of State Action Plan on Forest Fire. The reasons for such an approach smacks of the extent of abysmally low concern and care for the forests of Jammu and Kashmir. It is this forest wealth which adds lustre and sheen to the landscape of the State to promote and sustain tourism which is the backbone of the State’s economy. In other words, more than required care and attention to protect, preserve, expand and enrich our forest cover would be the need of the hour.
Other factors wreaking havoc to the forests are not subdued or controlled to an extent of deriving some satisfaction. For instance, there is still large chunk of forest land under unwarranted, illegal and unjustified possession of the ‘influential’ ones though retrieval process is there but that amounts to the proverbial a drop in the bucket. The other blow is merciless felling of trees, the tip of the iceberg we saw in respect of Samba forest trees felling about which we, a few days back, carried the facts about the incident dissecting all pleas, through these very columns. Militancy in Kashmir, on the other hand, gave a push to the scourge of felling and thieving of forest wealth and smuggling the same as timber between parts of the valley and even outside.
Holy scriptures have elaborate reference towards trees , rains, forests and their relation to food production. Saints, hermits, Rishis and spiritual icons had made forests as their spiritual laboratories and abodes, thus rendering highest importance to forests and other boons of nature. Some greedy ones cause forest fires as all fires are not accidental while the State Government is found wanting in to have a vision and an action plan to deal with forest fires. It is a travesty that most of the responsible officials of the State Forest Department are reported to be feigning ignorance even about any ‘sparrow’ called as National Action Plan on Forest Fire.