Jammu’s green gold ravaged, wildlife tormented as fires rage - Hindustan Times
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Jammu’s green gold ravaged, wildlife tormented as fires rage

Jun 04, 2024 08:46 AM IST

Several fire incidents in Jammu, Udhampur, Reasi, Rajouri, Kathua, Samba, Doda and Poonch districts in the past 24 hours have damaged vast tracts of forest land including wildlife

Amid unprecedented heatwave conditions this summer, over 1,000 fire incidents have occurred in the past month across the Jammu region, ravaging the forest ecosystem, fire and emergency services officials said.

Over 1,000 fire incidents have been reported from the region in around a month. (HT Photo)
Over 1,000 fire incidents have been reported from the region in around a month. (HT Photo)

The deputy director of the Jammu and Kashmir fire and emergency services department, RK Raina said, “Over 1,000 fire incidents have taken place in the past over a month across the region. Every single day, we get 60 to 70 calls of fire incidents.”

“While we have limited manpower, these days they are really overstretched. We are using our resources judiciously to tide over the situation,” he added.

The official cited an instance of a forest fire in Samba district, which had spread in over 4 sq km of forest area with human habitation, wildlife, communication and electricity towers.

“We had to approach it from four directions. We were able to contain it after a hectic effort,” he said.

The deputy director, however, candidly admitted that fighting fire in deep forests was not possible for the department.

“It is not possible to take our fire tenders deep inside jungles. Even if we lay water pipes, we won’t reach inside deep jungles. Therefore, we rely on forest department staff, forest protection force and locals to fight the blaze.”

“For the forest flora and fauna including wildlife, we unfortunately don’t have resources to protect them. The forest ecosystem is being destroyed by these fires,” he said.

The official said the department has to pre-plan a strategy and make arrangements in the form of water ponds in forest, fire channels and fire watchers given the alarming rise in mercury.

“We also need to use satellite monitoring systems and drones to locate fires in the jungles, which in turn would enable us to take immediate action,” he said.

Several fire incidents in Jammu, Udhampur, Reasi, Rajouri, Kathua, Samba, Doda and Poonch districts in the past 24 hours have damaged vast tracts of forest land including wildlife.

In Poonch district, a blaze, which spread from across the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday night, triggered multiple mine explosions along the Salotri forward area.

Reasi district witnessed three separate forest fires in the Adhkuwari, Bidda, and Mardi areas, which have now been extinguished.

Army also extinguished a massive forest fire at Suigarh forest in Doda district adjacent to NH 244.

Two quick reaction teams of the Army rushed to the spot at about 07:25 PM on Sunday and contained the blaze at around 08:45 PM.

In a respite, no loss of life was reported.

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