In Goa 24*7 Control room for Real-time Monitoring of fire set up to contain 48 Forest Fire spots
Inquiry ordered to ascertain reasons for Fire at each location. No major losses to floral and faunal diversity reported as yet. Sporadic fires have been reported and detected in various areas of Goa including forests, private areas, communidade lands, plantations, revenue lands, etc. since 05th March, 2023. The Forest Department Goa in close co-ordination and in tandem with the District Collector (North), the District Collector (South), SP (North), SP (South) and other line departments like Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services, has been addressing the local occurrences of fires on topmost priority and mobilising men and material to ensure that the fire spots are contained and loss to life and property, including natural resources is kept at nought/bare minimum.
TECHNICAL AND ENVIRONMENT DUE DILIGENCE
Sporadic fires have been reported and detected in various areas of Goa including forests, private areas, communidade lands, plantations, revenue lands, etc. since 05th March, 2023. The Forest Department Goa in close co-ordination and in tandem with the District Collector (North), the District Collector (South), SP (North), SP (South) and other line departments like Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services, has been addressing the local occurrences of fires on topmost priority and mobilising men and material to ensure that the fire spots are contained and loss to life and property, including natural resources is kept at nought/bare minimum. All concerned officials have been placed on high alert, the situation is being reviewed from close quarters and necessary instructions are being issued from time to time to all responsible officers.
The following steps have been taken by the Department to address the forest fire situation till now:
24x7 Control room for Real-time Monitoring of fire: A 24x7 Control Room has been established for real-time monitoring of the alerts generated by FSI. Exact geo-coordinates and maps of fire locations are shared to the field functionaries on real-time basis to immediately attend to the fires.
Forest Area divided into sectors DCF / ACF level officers made as incharge for monitoring the fire situation: The impacted areas have been divided into sectors and duties have been assigned to DCF and ACF level officers to immediately attend to the fires, for intensive management of forest fires in close coordination with line departments. More than 750 people are on the field to attend to the fire incidences on war-footing.
Unauthorised entries banned, Strict Enforcement of Forest and Wildlife laws to prevent entry: To check and prevent unauthorised entries into the forest areas, specific directions have been also given to the DCFs to ensure and strictly enforce the forest laws, as applicable and that matter be flagged to Police Department for investigation at their levels as well.
Co-ordination with Line Departments: Joint teams, in co-ordination with District Collector (North)/(South), Police Department, District Disaster Management Authority, Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services, local community, including PRI are deployed on field for immediate management of the fire incidences on war-footing.
Collectors requested to activate Disaster Management Machinery: Communications have also been made with DC (North/South) and SP (North/South) including the Director (Fire and Emergency Services) to activate the Disaster Management machinery at their respective jurisdiction and issue instructions to the responsible officials for prevention and control of fire.
Public Outreach through print, electronic and social media platforms: To generate awareness on Forest Fires amongst the public at large, preventive and control measures in the form of Dos and Don’ts are being disseminated.
Inquiry ordered to ascertain reasons / causes for Fire at each location: All the concerned DCFs have been directed to conduct detailed enquiry into each of the fire incidences which have occurred since 05.03.2023.
Forest Fire Prevention Measures intensified: The field executives and the teams are attending to the fire by cutting off the fuel to fire through creation of fire-lines and fire breaks, beating of bushes, counter firing, clearing the leaf litter.
As a precautionary measure to check reoccurrence of fires, all the sites where fire has been doused are being monitored regularly to control it immediately.
Aerial support from Indian Air Force and Indian Navy for forest fire management: Two helicopters of Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are continuously carrying out regular aerial recce of the forest areas to ascertain the extent of fire across the state. Drones are also being used for assessment of the extent of active fire areas. Further, in the case of inaccessible areas, the Indian Navy/IAF have also extended aerial support in dousing the fire through helibuckets.
As per the reports received from the field, since 05.3.2023 and till 1000 hours of 10.3.2023, 48 fire-spots have been detected and attended to by the field executives in close co-ordination with line departments and local public, including PRIs.
Some points that have been observed over the past few days are delineated below:
Long dry-spell (almost no rains since mid-October, 2022), coupled with unprecedented high summer temperature with low humidity has resulted in a conducive atmosphere for fire, which has been aggravated by high winds observed in the past couple of weeks, particularly after sundown.
The fires are mostly reported from the deciduous patches across the State. The nature of fire seen and observed is surface fire. Surface fires burn loose and dried leaf litter, dried herbaceous vegetation, shrubs, small trees, and saplings that are at or near the surface of the ground, mostly by flaming combustion. The expansion and spread of the surface fire are dictated by the load of surface fuel an area harbours; at places dead trees/fallen logs have added onto the intensity of the fire. Due to the burning debris, smoke and fumes is being continuously been observed and covered a large area.
The local populace, depending upon herding of cattle, are known to practise slash and burn technique in grazing lands and grasslands that are accessed by them for their cattle herds. Large swathes of grassy plateaus are observed to have been burned maybe primarily for promoting new grasses.
Similarly, as a cost-cutting measure in cultural and tending activities of the cashew plantation, slash and burn technique is also observed to be followed by the cashew plantation owners and workers, mostly to reduce the debris and suppress the growth underneath the cashew trees.
It appears that the fires are mostly man-made in nature, cause of which may be inadvertent or otherwise, for which enquiry has been initiated. The spread has further been aided due to unprecedented high temperature and high winds.
No major losses to floral and faunal diversity has been reported as yet.