Spurt in forest fires in Manipur

Imphal: The Manipur government has expressed concern over the sudden spurt in forest fires in the state and said adequate measures were being taken to bring the situation under control.

Over the past few days, forest fires have been reported from Langol and Phayeng in Imphal West, and Suangdoh in the hill district of Churachandpur, officials said.

Principal Chief Conservator K Angami, in a statement, said “forest fire incidences near the Imphal valley seem to be on the rise this year”.

“The forests are sometimes deliberately set on fire by individuals to clear land, which then they can use for poppy plantation, or sometimes simply as a retaliatory measure against the forest department’s strict restrictions on encroachment,” he said, adding that firefighters have been pressed into service to tackle the blaze.

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Themthing Ngasangva, the director of fire services, told PTI that wildfires occur in the months of March and April due to dry and humid weather conditions, compounded by high velocity wind.

Echoing Angami’s views, Ngasangva, however, stated that miscreants with vested interests were also found to have set fire to forests in some cases.

“It is very hard to control forest fire as the department lacks necessary equipment and manpower. Add to that,the regions are sometimes inaccessible, he said.

Ngasangva urged people to refrain from uploading pictures and videos of wildfires on social media, amid the ongoing lockdown, “as it could create panic among people in this time of crisis”.

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