Forest department appeals to prevent forest fires

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Pothashang News Service: Imphal, April 3, 2020: Manipur forest department has appealed to all sections of the society particularly, youth, and students to render their assistance in prevention and control of fire in the forest which is the property of each and every citizen.

There has been a sudden surge of incidences of forest fire Manipur including the Reserved Forests and protected Forests situated in and around the imphal Valley of Manipur. This has become a major cause of concern for the department in particular and the public of Manipur in general, said a statement released by the principal chief conservator of forest and HoFF K Angami on Friday.

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Almost all the forest fire in the state is man-made, either intentional or accidental. Jhum cultivation, fire wood collection, NTFP collection, charcoal making, burning of forest for hunting, cultivation of illegal poppy plantation, revenge for taking up eviction process etc are main causes of man-made forest fires. Human-caused accidental fires result from burning of debris in and around forest, negligently discarded cigarettes and campfires left unattended and other intentional acts of arson are other causes, it added.

Damage of forests by fire is matter of concern for everyone. It directly destroys the entire biodiversity of an area. Forest fire immediately releases all the carbon locked up in trees and plants in the forests immensely contributing to green house emissions in the atmosphere. Forest fire affects availability of nutrients in soil, reduces water retention capacity and promotes soil erosion. Burnt area is normally invaded by invasive species like Lantana camera. Smoke and particulate rnaterials released due to wildfires lead to rnassive air pollution. These particulates can penetrate deep into human lungs and cause health effects like coughing, sore throats, extreme wheezing, cardiovascular and various respiratory illness, said.

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Anyone who set fire in the forests is punishable under Section 26 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 with imprisonment for 6 months or fine upto Rs10,000 or both, the department cautioned.

The offender is also liable to pay compensation for damage to the forests and also cost for raising plantation over the burnt area. Any person who enjoys rights or benefits from the reserved forest land or any government servant residing around the forest land are supposed to prevent and control forest fire in the interest of public as provided under Section 79 of the
Act.

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Forest free from forest fire can be achieved only with the participation of each and every citizen, the principal chief conservator said.

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