Noting a serious recent series of forest fires in the state, Manipur Forest department on Friday sought the help of all sections of the society to join hands to prevent forest fires.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of the state Forest department, in a statement, stated that sudden surge of incidences of forest fires in the state has become a major cause of concern for the department in particular and the general public in general.
It said that almost all the forest fires 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, it alleged.
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 also major causes of forest fires.
The chief conservator stated that any person who enjoys rights or benefits from the reserved forest lands or any government servant residing around the forest land are bound to prevent, control and extinguish the forest fires and assist the Forest officials in extinguishing of the fire as provided under section 79 of the Act and rule of the Manipur Forest Rules, 1971. He further reminded that it is also the constitutional duty of every citizen to improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures as enshrined under Article 51 (A)(g) of the constitution.
While maintaining that forests are public properties upon which survival of mankind depends, the statement reminded that 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 section of IPC and also under the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Manipur Forest Rules, 1971.
The Forest department then appealed to all sections of the society including civil society organisations, voluntary agencies, youths, students, etc. to render their assistance in prevention, control and extinguish fire in the forest.