DAINIK NATION BUREAU
The state’s principal chief conservator of forests Rajendra Kumar flagged off a group of artistes to launch the Vanagni Suraksha rally aimed at generating public awareness regarding various aspects of forest fires. According to information provided by departmental officials, the 14-member group flagged off by the PCCF from the forest department headquarters in provisional state capital Dehradun comprises 10 local artistes and four employees of the state forest department.
In the first stage of the forest fire awareness rally, the 14-member group will work in four of the districts in the Garhwal region. The group will stage shows in crowded places, bazaar and localities performing street-plays, singing songs, reciting poems and raising slogans related to forests and forest fires in Garhwali, Kumaoni and Hindi languages. The group will be active in various parts of the said region from March 1 to March 10. The forest fire season in Uttarakhand starts in the month of February and lasts till the end of June. With the forest fire season already having started, the team undertaking the forest fire awareness rally will hold public awareness activities to generate awareness and elicit necessary action towards mitigation of forest fires.
According to the department officials, in order to stop forest fires, it is essential to have public support for which the team will general awareness among local villagers about the importance of forests and aspects of forest fires. The effort is aimed at eliciting involvement of the local villagers in departmental efforts against forest fires. It is pertinent to mention here that forest fires are an annual feature in the state, causing considerable damage to the ecological wealth of the Himalayan state. While the department claims to undertake awareness generation and other efforts, observers state that the villagers especially in the remote mountainous regions are the ones involved in actively fighting forest fires in places where the departmental personnel and resources are limited. Some allege that apart from the controlled fire set up by the department to exhaust fuel for preventing unmanageable forest fires, in many cases forest fires are deliberately set up in order to cover up for tree plantation shown on papers but not carried out on the ground. Department officials deny such allegations