IMPHAL, April 3 - The sudden surge in fire in the reserve and protected forests of Manipur, including those in and around the Imphal Valley, has caused concern to the State Forest Department in particular and the people in general.
Almost all forest fire in the State is man-made, either intentional or accidental. Jhum cultivation, firewood collection, charcoal making, burning of forests for hunting, illegal poppy plantation, �revenge� for eviction, etc., are main causes of made-made forest fires, said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests K Angami in a press release issued here today.
Human-caused accidental fires result from burning of debris in and around forests, discarded cigarettes, campfires left unattended to and other intentional acts of arson, he added.
Damage to forests due to fire is a matter of concern for everyone as it destroys the entire biodiversity of an area, the release stated, adding that forest fire immediately releases all carbon locked up in trees and plants, adding to the greenhouse emissions in the atmosphere. Forest fire affects availability of nutrients in soil, reduces water retention capacity, and promotes soil erosion.
A burnt area is normally taken over by invasive species like Latana camera (locally called �namthirei�). Smoke and particulate matter released due to wildfire leads to massive air pollution, the release pointed out. These particulates can penetrate deep into human lungs and cause health problems like coughing, sore throat, extreme wheezing, cardiovascular and various respiratory illnesses.
Anyone who sets fire to forests is punishable under Section 26 of the India Forest Act, 1972 with imprisonment for six months or a fine up to Rs 10,000 or both. The offender is also liable to pay compensation for damage to forests and bear the cost for raising a plantation on the burnt area.
Meanwhile, the Forest Department has urged all sections of society, particularly youth and students, to help in the prevention and control of forest fire.