Man-made fires continue to destroy Kerala's dwindling forest cover
16 April 2019
Several acres of forest land in Kerala’s Idukki district gutted after massive fire that broke out on Monday. The massive fire that broke out in the Vattavada forest region of Idukki on Monday afternoon destroyed over 15 hectares of forest land, according to preliminary investigations.
The fire that engulfed the proposed Neelakurinji sanctuary of the Kambakallu-Kadavari region of Idukki gutted large swaths of eucalyptus plantations, according to local reports.
Officials believe the fire, the second in a month’s time, is man-made. The fire has been brought under control but has yet to be extinguished completely, they said, adding that firefighters are working to douse the fire in the sanctuary area of Vattavada.
Forest Department official allege that the fire was started by the land mafia in an effort to prevent the land from being taken over by the proposed Neelakurinji sanctuary.
In March, a six-day long forest fire that engulfed Pazhathottam, Jandamala, Kadavari, Anamala and Pampadum Shola National Park areas had gutted nearly 1,000 hectares of forest, plantations and grasslands.
"The Forest Department has registered three cases in connection with the man-made forest fires. We will conduct a detailed probe into the issue," reports cited forest officials as saying.
The forest fires have forced wild animals to migrate from their habitats in the Munnar forest to the Amaravathi forest in Tamil Nadu and human habitations in Munnar.
Last week, herds of wild elephants and bisons entered human settlements in Kundala near Vattavada. “The wild animal migrations show the forest fire has severely affected the natural habitat of wild animals," officials said.
The Forest Department says it plans to create “fire breaks” in an effort to prevent forest fires in the state.
Reports quoting field director Kottayam Georgy P Mathachen said the Forest Department uses felled trees to create fire breaks that serve to prevent canopy fires from spreading.
"The Forest Department typically uses fire lines to prevent forest fires. But the fire lines do not help to prevent forest fires in the plantation areas due to the width of the canopy of the deep forests. The tree break technique will help to prevent large forest fires," he added.