Context:

Recently, Mizoram Minister of State (Forest and Environment)  said that fires were raging in some parts of Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district  though they were almost under control in Lunglei, Serchhip and Hnahthial districts.

Relevance:

GS-III: Disaster Management (Forest Fires)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Forest Survey of India (FSI) report on Forest Fires in India
  2. Causes of Forest Fires
  3. India’s Initiatives to Tackle Forest Fires
  4. About the Mizoram Forest Fires

Forest Survey of India (FSI) report on Forest Fires in India

  • More than 5000 forest fires were recorded in Odisha between February & March 1, 2021 — the highest in the country for the same period.
  • Collection of mahua flowers and kendu leaves, practice of shifting cultivation and grazing in forest areas are some of the reasons for forest fires in Odisha.
  • Telangana recorded the second-highest fires in the country during the same period, followed by Madhya Pradesh (both Telangana and MP with over 1500 fires) and Andhra Pradesh (almost 1300 fires), according to FSI data.

Causes of Forest Fires

Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man-made or anthropogenic causes.

  1. Natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. High atmospheric temperatures and low humidity offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start.
  2. Man-made causes like flame, cigarette, electric spark or any source of ignition will also cause forest fires.
  3. Traditionally Indian forests have been affected by fires. The problem has been aggravated with rising human and cattle population and the increase in demand for grazing, shifting cultivation and Forest products by individuals and communities.
  4. High temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells can intensify the forest fires.

India’s Initiatives to Tackle Forest Fires

  1. National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF) was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.
  2. The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM) is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.

About the Mizoram Forest Fires

  • The fire first broke out at the Saisih forest area on the outskirts of Lunglei town and spread to the town.
  • The fire had been mainly concentrated in uninhabited forest areas surrounding Lunglei town and had spread to many village council areas – hence, no human casualty has been reported so far due to the fire.
  • Some of the suspected causes of the fire, according to the Mizoram Minister of State, could be the long dry season due to less rainfall, jhum (shifting) cultivation and possibility of human activity.
  • The fire in the worst-affected Lunglei district in southern Mizoram has been under control due to the continuous efforts of the locals along with assistance from Indian Air force (IAF) helicopters, personnel from the paramilitary Assam Rifles and Border Security Force as well as state firemen.
  • Most of the forest fires reported in Mizoram every year occurred in the month of March in 2021 according to the Fire & Emergency Services department records.
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-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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