Unusual forest fires in peak winter season in Munsiyari area of Pithoragarh
Pithoragarh, Jan 13
Continued dry spell and absence of rains and snow in the high Himalayan region have led to start of forest fires in the forests near Panchachuli peaks in Munsiyari area of Pithoragarh district, a rare occurrence during the peak winter season.
“We have witnessed forest fire at Panchachuli region at some places. Our teams have reached there and are trying to extinguish the forest fire, ” said Jeewan Dagare, District Forest Officer(DFO), Pithoragarh.
According to locals, the fire probably has been set by poachers who have reached the Panchachuli region to poach rare high Himalayan fauna, like Musk deer, Monal, snow leopard, barking deer and Ghural. These animals usually some down to lower elevation to survive chilling cold of higher region, their natural habitat.
“These poachers have reached there from outside of Munsiyari to kill these animals and needed to be checked,” said Ganesh Singh Danu, sarpanch of Pattharkot village of Munsiyari.
Pithoragarh DFO has denied the presence of poachers there and said that his department has received no information about presence of poachers there.”It might be the act of villagers, who have set their forest to fire to grow more grass in coming summer,” said the DFO.
The forest fires have been witnessed at Panchachuli, Balanti, Chipla kedar, Pattharkot and Kultham forests of Panchachuli region of Munsiyari range of forest. “These places are at 21 km distance from Munsiyari town and it takes at least two days to reach there. Our teams have already reached there and succeeded in putting off some fires,” claimed the DFO.
The local people have said that due to lack of snowfall in this month this year, the forest fires have erupted at an elevation of 10000 feet where the temperature has reached to minus 3 degree Celsius.”As human settlements are at 2 to 5 km from these terrains, it is unbelievable that villagers might have set the forest on fire,” said Anand Goswami, a villager from Madkot village of Munsiyari.