Slash and burn shifting cultivation, locally known as Jhum in the hill tracts of Northeast India, including Manipur, is one of the major causes of forest fire in the region and there is an urgent need to stop such destructive practices to control forest fires, said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Aditya Kumar Joshi, government of Manipur.
Aditya Kumar Joshi made the statement during the inaugural session of Consultation Workshop of National Project on Forest Fire Management on Friday at the Classic Hotel, Imphal. The consultation discussed the need for early warning, feedback, research, and training to mitigate forest fires.
PCCF AK Joshi said that forest has become a global issue and not just a local issue and that as time progresses, it will become a bigger issue. Hence, forest and fire have become an agenda in G20.
Earlier, fires in the forests were caused by certain outcomes from nature but now, they have become more man-made and it is going out of hand, AK Joshi said. Forest fire is also a factor of soil degradation, said PCCF by giving an example of Shiroi fire where helicopters were used to spray water.
He also said the Jhum cycle has reduced due to increasing population pressure and there is an urgent need to end shifting cultivation.
Recalling the recent Dzuko fire and NDRF’s role in it, and also the massive Shiroi Hill fire, PCCF said that coordination and cooperation between all the agencies is needed. There is a need for policy intervention, strategic national action plan. In fact, there is a state action plan for forest fire management, it requires more to reach range level awareness to strengthen action on controlling forest fires, he added.
PCCF had apprised the ministry for considering shortage of man-power, equipment, vehicles and others, highlighting the various traditional methods to fight fire and also stressed the need for uses of technology to strengthen the tactics.
He informed that the department is also initiating a recommendation of a separate scheme for Northeast states that was recommended at the Guwahati consultation workshop.
NDMA joint secretary, Kunal Satyarthi, highlighted the innovative schemes and initiatives being developed and supported by him as well as the role of NDMA towards forest fires.
He also informed that India is the first country among developing countries to have an alert system about disasters in the form of apps and other electronic media. Satyarthi also stressed on the important role of fire line, control of forest fire, reducing response time and the important duty of forest guards and firefighters at the time of fire.
During the inaugural, the opening remark was given by AIG (Forest) MoEF, government of India, Sh Shivanand S Talwar.
The workshop was attended by officials of forest department, DFO, SDRF, Fire Service Manipur.