PUNE: To control the incidents of forest fire, the State Forest Department has decided to start a dedicated helpline number for people to report such incidents to them.
Sudhir Mungantiwar, State Forests Minister on Thursday said that to control such incidents there is need of participation of people. “Our department has taken two major decisions to control forest fires. Earlier, we would call it a forest fire if the fire is spread over an area of 1 square kilometre. Now we have reduced it to 300 square metres so that forest guards are more alert and help in controlling the fire incident. Similarly we have established a command control centre in Nagpur which will be dedicated in monitoring the situation of forest fires,” added Mungantiwar.
The minister on his Facebook page stated that the department will start helpline number 1958 which will be dedicated to handle forest fire incidents. Mungantiwar who was in the city on Thursday accepted that the Forest Department has shortfall of some paraphernalia to control forest fire incidents but said that the department has formed a committee to look into all such issues.
The recent death of forest guard Sadashiv Tryambakappa Nagthane, a Pune division forest worker, who succumbed to serious burn injuries while dousing a forest fire in Bhor taluka on January 3 highlighted the risks involved in the work.
Officials of the Forest Department said that forest fire incidents are leading to loss of flora and fauna which is harmful for society. As per Pune Forest Department, in the last three years, Pune district saw at least 199 forest fires.
“As the manpower of the Forest Department is less for handling such incidents which require huge manpower, there is need of massive participation from locals to handle forest fires,” said an official from the Forest Department.