Sunday, February 28, 2010

Preparing for forest fires

An editorial in the Morung Express (India): Last year many incidents of forest fires occurred around the world causing alarm to helpless people caught in the inferno… That climate change is indeed a grim reality is evidenced by the record dry wave that is being witnessed across many parts of Indian including in Nagaland. And in fact the State’s department of Forest, Ecology, Environment and Wildlife has come out with some pointer based on interactions with local farmers suggesting a marked change in the climatic patterns that have come to affect our local farmers agricultural calendar.

Coming back to the bush fire disaster in Australia, there have been similar incidents in Nagaland. Dzukuo valley was partially ravaged by fire in the year 2006. Most recently another fire struck Dzukou valley but luckily the damage was contained and there was no casualty. But it was not so fortunate for the four persons, including a minor who were charred to death in a forest fire at Noklak in Tuensang district of Nagaland. The fire started by the villagers to clear jungle for jhum cultivation spread towards the human populated areas due to dry spell accompanied by wind.

The latest fire accident at Noklak has several lessons for all concerned in Nagaland and more so because we have large tracts of forest land and where jhum cultivation is the main agricultural practice prevailing among the farmers. It is not that the State government is doing nothing but whether it is doing enough and effectively dealing with the problem is the question.

….To avert such kind of accidents in the State, the government should take appropriate measures besides creating awareness at the village levels especially during the prevailing dry season. This should include disseminating information capsule (in the respective local dialects) on safe farming methodology so that Naga farmers who are closest to nature are able to live in harmony with nature while enjoying the benefits therein. One is made to wonder about the State government’s level of preparedness to deal with such incidents in future.

A map showing the location of Nagaland and other Indian states, by Jeroenvrp, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license

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