Northeast records more forest fires than northern states: FSI Report | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Northeast records more forest fires than northern states: FSI Report

The eight NE states -- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – recorded over 15,000 fire alerts or incidents on an average each year.

dehradun Updated: Feb 15, 2018 21:59 IST
Nihi Sharma
Shifting cultivation is the main reason for fire incidents in the northeast.
Shifting cultivation is the main reason for fire incidents in the northeast. (HT PHOTO)

Northeastern states have reported the highest number of forest fire incidents in the country and northern states the lowest, said the latest report of the Forest Survey of India (FSI).

The eight NE states -- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – recorded over 15000 fire alerts or incidents on an average each year, said the report released in 2017. The average has been calculated on the basis baseline data collected between 2003 and 2016.

Northern states - Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh -- reported lowest fire cases – 1000 per year.

The NE average is nearly two times more than that of central states, which reported 9000 forest fire alerts or incidents on an average every year. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal constitute the central group.

“The geographical area of northeastern states is the lowest, but the fire alerts as well as incidents are the highest,” said E Vikram, deputy director of FSI, Dehradun. He prepared the report.

Vikram said 90% of the forest fires were a result of human activities. Shifting cultivation is the main reason for fire incidents in NE. In central states, harvesting of mahua flowers for making local wine and extraction of tendu leaves for making bidis result in wildfires.

Southern states -- Andaman & Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshwadeep, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana -- reported 5000 forest fire alerts every year. The western Himalayan group -- Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir – reported 2000 forest incidents every year.

Pine trees have contributed to forest fires in western Himalayan states. The needles of pine trees can easily catch fire. The worst blazes occurred in areas abundant in pine trees.

The report highlighted a lull period of 3-4 years in three Himalayan states during which the fuel (pine needles) is built up. “There are huge variations in number of fires detected across the year. The peaks in number of fires observed in 2009, 2012, and 2016 are indicative of the influence of drought in the region. A clear cyclic trend of severe fire years being followed by a lull period of usually 3-4 years can be established,” the report said.

“During the lull period, pine resin accumulates causing wildfire spread. But, a majority of incidents across the country are intentional fire and a few are accidental,” said Prakash Lakhchaura, FSI director.