TODAY -

Forest fire in Manipur : Angaan Ching Eco Park incident

Alfred Ksh *

 Angaan Ching Eco-Park at Kakching (December 27 2019)
Angaan Ching Eco-Park at Kakching (December 27 2019) :: Pix - TSE



On 28th March, 2022 early morning we got the message of a forest fire, which started in the late afternoon the day before, being put out with the help of some local residents, Kakching Police and Fire Service just on the other side (Tejpur side) of the Angaan Ching Eco Park, Kakching.

When we reached the area we got the information that the fire was started by some 4 or 5 people intentionally. The local residents further said that they shouted at them but they ran away towards the Kakching side. We went up to the hill, there we could see a large area already burnt, luckily pine trees were unaffected but some leftover roots were still burning.

Thanks to the early detection by the local residents, the Police and Fire service. The light drizzle at that time also helped in slowing down and ultimately poutting out the fire in the evening. Moreover there was no strong wind at that time. Just last year near this region there was a huge wildfire which almost destroyed the surrounding areas including the area covered by the Angaan Ching Eco Park, Kakching.

In this Eco park over the years since its establishment in 2002 by Alliance for Development Alternatives Manipur (ADAM), there has been a continuous movement to restore the ecosystem by planting trees and also taking care of them by devoted volunteers with the motto of U Thasi U Hinghansi.

So if we’re to prevent such forest fires in future then there has to be some plans like creating awareness among the locals, forming Joint Forest Fire Management, etc. Forest fires mostly are man-made, people go for party in the nearby forest areas and they forget to put out the fire, sometimes they’re drunk and unknowingly they create this massive destruction of flora and fauna in the nearby ecosystem.

In the hilly regions the traditional method of shifting cultivation causes this kind of havoc but as far as hills near the valley regions are concerned this may be the least cause. Manipur is one of the leading States in India as far as forest fire is concerned. We’re only behind Mizoram among the North Eastern States.

It is because of the large forest cover we have which is unsurprisingly declining at a very fast rate. The hills which were once covered with beautiful greeneries now look like a bald head. Whatever little ADAM or any other Eco Club is trying to restore the ecosystem, if that is also destroyed then what will be left after all.

Further Problems

When we went to check the areas which had caught fire we could see so many litters lying around. It was an eye sore to see the area so dirty and contrasted with the scenic beauty we could see by standing there. It is pretty certain that the mess is created by those who come there to party, some to get high or do drugs and by those teenage lovebirds who come there to meet furtively.

A simple solution for this would be to ban organising parties near the forest areas, and for the teenagers they should be encouraged to go for date in the restaurants (where many are coming up these days even in the rural areas) not in the open space where they’d eat and litter around-at least they’ll be contributing to the economy !

Another thing we noticed was that in some of the pine trees, some portions were cut out mostly in the middle bottom part to let the oil from inside to flow out, once it is dried they’ll take out the dried portion for igniting fire at home. This practice was very common before when we had to ignite fire at home, now it is seen mostly in the rural areas.

But the main problem here is some of the trees were not in a position to stand, in other words they’re slowly killing the trees ! And once the trees fall down they’ll take away the wood too.

On one side many are trying to save the environment but at the same time since rural or village people depend on nature, it is hard to just disconnect them abruptly. But we can reconcile them to establish an emotional attachment with nature so that even when they’re exploiting the resources they’re doing it in a sustainable manner and helping in maintaining the ecosystem as balanced as possible.

We could save the fire from raging the entire forest area because a local resident could inform the Police Control room, Kakching. This was a very important call from him because those people who’re aware of this issue know the fact that Forest fire contributes around 20% to global carbon emission. Once an area’s vegetation is destroyed, it takes around 3-5 years for the area to regenerate.

And the number of forest fire incident is increasing every year which is mostly due to the human’s careless activities. Here our Forest Department can take a major role by organising awareness programs in the Leikais, creating fire line clearance, banning parties near forest areas.

But the most important role to control the fire once started will be played by the people especially the ones residing near the foothills. It is therefore important to educate them and extremely important to put up posters with the contact details of the nearest Police Control room or the Fire Service to control the fire as early as possible.

A well coordinated team of the locals, Police Station and the Fire Service needs to be formed. Last but not least in today’s world Social Media plays a huge role in the implementation of any plan so it is good to utilize its role.

Hence, to prevent such forest fire in the future we need a collective effort between people and the Government going hand in hand in the ultimate endeavour of restoring and saving our environment.


* Alfred Ksh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a graduate from Delhi University (BA Hons Political science)
and a Volunteer at Angaan Ching Eco park, Kakching
and can be reached at alfredksh1036(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 03 2022 .



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