BARDIBAS: More than 20 settlements, located near the forests towards north and south of the East-West Highway in the district, are at high risk from forest fires.

People in Bhabsi, Dhungre, Gananta, Bardanda, Tuteshwar, Cheru, Khayarmara and Hathilet of Bardibas Municipality near Banke, Maraha, Tuteshwar and Maisthan forests have been spending nights in vigil due to the increasing instances of wildfire.

Likewise, the locals of Ramnagar, Belgachhi and Laxminiya among other areas in Gaushala Municipality are also under constant threat of wildfire.

The risk of forest fire is high in the summer season as the dry leaves are prone to catching fire.

The risk of forest fire had subsided with the rainfall five days ago but, it has again increased and forest fires have become frequent in the forests as of late, said Pradip Adhikari, a resident of Cheru.

The officials at the Mahottari District Forest Office were of view that the people from settlements around the forests were most likely to start the fires.

Locals, especially the cattle farmers, start the forest fire in the belief that doing so would help in the regeneration of grass and foliage for their cattle in the patch of the burnt down forest area next season.

The Office stated that they have increased vigilance to nab those involved in starting the forest fire.

Mahottari district has a forest area of around 9,000 hectares.