Early onset of forest fires in Pune a matter of concern - Hindustan Times
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Early onset of forest fires in Pune a matter of concern

Mar 13, 2024 05:46 AM IST

Between January 2023 and December 2023, 37 forest fires were reported in which at least 76.44 hectares of forest land was affected

Forest fires – a phenomenon typically associated with scorching summer months – have made an early appearance in Pune in 2024, with the forest department recording as many as 22 forest fires from January till date this year. By comparison, the department had logged 37 forest fires in the whole of 2023. The increasing incidence of forest fires is being attributed to higher temperatures recorded this winter in Pune, and such occurrences are only expected to rise in the coming days.

The increasing incidence of forest fires is being attributed to higher temperatures recorded this winter in Pune. (HT PHOTO)
The increasing incidence of forest fires is being attributed to higher temperatures recorded this winter in Pune. (HT PHOTO)

Between January 2023 and December 2023, 37 forest fires were reported in which at least 76.44 hectares of forest land was affected. The highest number of forest fires were reported in February 2023 (11) in which at least 34.75 hectares of forest land was affected. Compared to earlier years though, the number of forest fires in 2023 was significantly lower. This year however, there is a surge in forest fires with fires reported at seven different spots in the Sinhagad forest as recently as Sunday, March 11, wherein two hectares of forest land was destroyed.

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Samadhan Patil, range forest officer, said, “A total of two hectares of forest land was affected by seven different forest fire incidents in the Sinhagad forest area. The fires were controlled with the joint efforts of forest officials and residents. The department is now investigating these incidents. Of the seven incidents, four were reported in Atkarwadi whereas the remaining three were reported in Paygude Wadi and Chavan Wadi. A total 25 people were involved in controlling the fire incidents.”

Higher temperatures are the main reason for the surge in forest fires. As per India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, temperatures this year continued to be at normal to higher levels throughout the year (between 13 and 16 degrees Celsius).

Ketki Sathe, a member of the Sahakar Nagar Citizens’ Forum, said, “Forest fires and their management is one of the major concerns in the Taljai Hills area especially due to inadequate forest department manpower. Hence, we have asked the forest department to consider this issue and take appropriate action.”

Mahadev Mohite, deputy conservator of forests (DCF), Pune forest department, said, “The forest department also got firefighting equipment under the District Planning and Development Council (DPDC). This equipment was deployed at all forest ranges under the Pune forest division, and helped with timely response to such incidents. From time to time, updates were taken about the forest fire incidents.”

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