Blaze engulfs Kotihar forest
PEOPLE ALLEGE SMUGGLERS-OFFICIAL NEXUS
Islamabad (Anantnag), Mar 18: While a major fire engulfed a large area of Kotihar forest belt of this South Kashmir district here today the locals blamed the department for the frequent forest blazes.
“The fire first erupted from compartment number 107 of Sanuch, Rakhi Brah, Ranipora zone and soon spread to the nearby compartment numbers 106 and 105,” said a forest official posted there.
However, the Range officer, Ali Muhammad said the fire did not cause much damage and was controlled immediately.
“The fire might have caused a major damage had it been a dry spell, but since there is lot of snow around, only grass in the compartment number 107 was torched,” said Ali.
About the cause of the fire he, said it might have been the ‘mischief’ of children.
However, the locals here are not buying that argument alleging that the compartment was set ablaze by the forest officials itself.
“The timber smugglers in connivance with the forest officials fell the prized Deodar and Kail trees and after that in order to wipe out the evidence burn the trucks,” they said adding the burnt trucks gradually wither away due to snow and rain.
Pertinently, the higher ups will be conducting an inspection in the area after few days only.
The negligence of the forest officials and nexus between the forest officials and smugglers, villagers say, has paved the way for the timber smugglers. “There is definitely a nexus between top officials of the division and the smugglers otherwise such a rampant smuggling is not possible,” said Muddasir Ahmad of Shangus.
Conservator Forests, Manzoor Ahmad Tak, however refuted the allegations.
“In Brah, Rainipora area, there are some people in the upper reaches who are damaging the forests and we have booked many of them under Public Safety Act. But the compartments 107 and other nearby are virtually a no forest zone,” he said.
On the forest fires, he said, such blaze was common in dry spells only and it might be a ‘mischief.’
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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