Thirty districts to get fire-fighting equipment

KATHMANDU: Taking lessons from one of the biggest wildfires in the country, Department of Forests has started preparations to adopt preventive measures to control possible damage in coming years.

“We have decided to distribute fire-fighting equipment in about 30 districts. We will begin distributing equipment worth Rs 50,000 in each district from September or October,” said Gopal K Shrestha, chief of the National Forest Division under the DoF.

The DoF has requested the World Wildlife Fund to support the programme.

“The WWF is positive towards our proposal,” Shrestha added.

Wildfires affected more than 250 places in more than 35 districts from January till early this month. Chitwan (5,000 hectares), Rautahat (5,000 hectares), Sindhuli (4,600 hectares), Tanahun (3,000 hectares), Gulmi (1,600 hectares), Parbat (5,000 hectares), Parsa (7,60 hectares) and Bajura (300 hectares) suffered the most.

“Rainfall in the last few days has helped douse the raging fire,” Shrestha said, adding, “Now, the fire is completely under control.”

Shrestha said they would also launch awareness campaigns from November in various districts. Nepal boasts of 5.5 million hectares of land covered by forests.

Meanwhile, more than 600 hectares of forest land in several

national parks and conservation areas were destroyed in the fire, according to Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Chitwan National Park, Bardiya National Park, Langtang National

Park, Kanchanjunga National Park, Sagarmatha National Park, and Shivapuri National Park were affected by wildfire this season.

“The fire has damaged precious ecosystems in the protected areas and increased environmental pollution. This may lead to soil erosion and poaching of wild animals in a big scale,” said associate professor Bhaiya Khanal. He also said early preparedness was the only remedy to control the risk of such wildfires.

“We can’t estimate the loss caused by the fire at this moment. But we will launch massive afforestation campaign in the fire-ravaged areas soon,” Shrestha assured. The wildfire claimed more than two dozen lives, including 13 army personnel in Ramechhap district.