Forest department appeals all to prevent fire incidence, cautions punishment to offenders

Imphal: Manipur forest department has appealed to all sections of the society including CSOs, voluntary agencies, youths, students PA to render their assistance in prevention, control and extinguish fire in the forest which is the property of each and every citizen.

Forest free from forest fire can be achieved only with the participation of each and every citizen, the department said.

A notification issued by principal chief conservator of forests and HoFF Kereilhouvi Angami said forests are public properties upon which survival of mankind depends. Damage to forest by setting fire is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to five years with fine under the Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 coupled with relevant Sections of IPC and also under the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Manipur Forest Rules, 1971″.

udden surge of incidences of forest the in Manipur has become a major cause of concern for the forest department in particular and the general public in general. Almost all the forest fire in the state are man-made, either intentional or accidental. Fire wood collection, NTFP collection, charcoal making, burning of forest for hunting, cultivation of illegal poppy plantation, revenge for taking up eviction process etc are main causes of man-made forest fires. Human-caused accidental fires due to burning of debris in and around forest, negligently discarded cigarettes and campfires left unattended and other intentional acts of arson are major cause of forest fires, it said.

It said damage of forests by fire is a matter of concern for everyone. It directly destroys the entire biodiversity of an area upon which survival of mankind depends upon. Forest fire immediately releases all the carbon locked up in trees and plants in the forests immensely contributing to green house emissions in the atmosphere. Forest fire severely affects soil fertility, reduces water retention capacity and enhances soil erosion. Burnt area is normally invaded by invasive species like lantana camera.

Smoke and particulate materials released due wildfires lead to massive air pollution upto a considerable distance. These particulates can penetrate deep into human lungs and cause health problems like coughing, sore throats, extreme wheezing, cardiovascular and various respiratory illness, it added.
It said setting fire in the forests is an offence under Section 26 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Rule No.9 of the Manipur Forest Rides, 1971 and the offender is punishable with imprisonment for 6 months or fine upto Rs 10,000 or both. The offender is also liable to pay compensation for damage to the forests and also cost for raising plantation over the burnt area, the department said.

Any person who enjoys rights or benefits (torn the reserved forest land or any government servant residing around the forest land are bound to prevent, control and extinguish the forest fire and assist the forest officials in extinguishing of the fire as provided under Section 79 of the Act and Rule No.10 of the Manipur Forest Rules, 1971, it added.

It said it is also the constitutional duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures as enshrined under Article 51(A)(g) of the Constitution.

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