Stimulating Young Hearts........

Forest Fire In Indian Mountainous Regions

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”



  It was late evening when my mom called me, as usual, she asked me about the weather. Being in the mountains and especially in the month of February I found it’s usually cold in the evening but surprisingly this evening I felt different. Minutes later I found my US citizen friend Jessica was shouting frantically and asking me to come out of my room. The look on her face was terrible. She pointed towards Jungle which was not so far from the guest house where we were living. Now I could figure out the reason for not feeling cold at all that evening. Gosh! Such a big patch of jungle was on fire. We really had no idea that what to do. The thing we loved most i.e. nature was just dying in front of our eyes and we were absolutely helpless. I called the fire department in 101 but the call was not going through. I managed to get local police station phone number via  internet and called them but I didn’t get any satisfactory answer. I wanted to click pictures of the fire, but it was already dark and with my simple mobile camera the pictures I got from so far were not at all able to show the gravity of the fire. Hours passed, but there was no help from anywhere to stop the fire.

The place I am talking about here is Kasar Devi, which is a village 8km north of Almora, a hidden jewel in the crown of Uttarakhand. A year back, I had visited this place on the recommendation of my Balinese friend; I initially wanted to stay here for a week only but ended almost a whole year at this serene place. I remember my first time when I was going up to Almora via cab I had noticed smoke emission out of the woods. “Forest fire is very common,” the cab driver had told me. After spending a few days in Kasar Devi I was getting to know the vicinity, and there was a place which I and my friend Jessica had named as ‘End of the Earth’. One day, as usual, we were there deep inside the woods, all of a sudden we realized that some people were deliberately putting the pine trees on fire. It was shocking to us. Maybe they had felt the expressions of our faces so in a minute they were out of the scene. We inquired the villagers curiously, some people told it might be for rains and some told it might be the forest department itself. It was really an astonishing discovery. People in these mountains have the myth if they burn trees it’s going to bring rain. This is really a very alarming situation and the worst is forest guards get a budget for firefighting every year, so to avail the budget they sometimes deliberately put the fire. There are three conditions that need to be present in order for a wildfire to burn, fuel, oxygen, and a heat source. Lightning, burning campfires or cigarettes, hot winds, and even the sun can all provide enough heat to spark a wildfire. But in actuality according to the survey, four out of every five wildfires are started by people. Fires are a major cause of forest degradation and have wide-ranging adverse ecological, environmental, economic and social impacts. 

Next threat to the trees that all the trees are peeled for collecting Pine Sap ‘Lisa’ a thick liquid that comes from these trees. This liquid is sold at a very high rate as it’s used in varnishing, paints and it's highly inflammable too. One will find all the trees peeled for  Pine Sap 'Lisa', not even in deep woods you will find a single tree untouched. This practice is slowly killing the whole jungle.  

The next morning I and Jessica walked 8 km up to Almora to for a Tete-a-Tete with the fire department. They said they are responsible for the fire near homes or in residential places; forest fire is the responsibility of forest department only. Then they suggested us to report the incident to a nearby police station. Minutes later I was in the police station reporting the incidence. What shocked me was when I asked their instance, over the forest fire, the officer told me that I am the first person ever here to report the incidence of fire. I was aware of the fact that fire incidence happens in forests here so often from the first day I had come here, how come police was so ignorant. Why couldn’t law authorities take the cognizance by themselves, when local people are too lazy to report, or authorities are lazy too? Well, I came empty handed with the answer that they can’t do anything about it, saying how they can catch the person causing the fire when they weren’t in the place of incidence. It sounded like that police telling me that ‘how we can even think of catching the thieves when they were not stealing in front of us.’

Forest Fire is keeping my heart on flames..

    Share if yours too…

Well, personally I don’t have any vendetta against anyone, any local, or any authority, then why am I writing this article. Like any sensible person, it hurts me a lot to see people destroying nature and our real treasure so recklessly. If you are a sensible person too, kindly share this article as much as possible. Are you?

 - Author Himani Vashishta





What my friend Jessica says about the incidence.....


I didn't expect to see this on my trip to India. I am from Butte Montana USA, and usually, in the Summer, we have natural wildfires because of the dry land that a pine forest makes. Before I came to India I read only a few things about it, I read how protected the forests are because of such a decline in forests in the country from deforestation over the years. I came to India to study Vedic Astrology with a dear Indian man I met, he also is a Vedic Astrologer. One of the very first places I journeyed to in India, was Kasar Devi, Almora. A peaceful place... Heaven for the mind and soul. I had come across lots of stories from people in India about all the corruption. One of the corrupt things I had heard was that people make forest fires on purpose just to get a paycheck. I Never Heard of Such Atrocities! I have been seeing for myself that this happens where I am staying- here in Kasar Devi, Almora.... I have never seen a forest take so much damage in my life! This forest gets beat up, and hardly any respect for it! I think that the Indian people need to take a stand for this! Without the birds, the bees and the Trees, you lose your Planet, don't you understand? I'm tired of my evenings looking out and seeing what looks like a volcano just erupted in Kasar! And then in the mornings, no one can enjoy the beautiful Himalayas because there's so much smoke you can't see them! This is a country known for its wonderful culture, beauty, its  nature! Indians must sustain India's beauty forever!

8 comments:

  1. Sounds terrible!
    I have Strong belief in Nature's powers to keep the balance! Humans are destroying what nourishes them!

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  2. Seriously pathetic!!! I feel that the forest authorities should be more responsible.. They should be brought to task for being so lethargic and careless about nature.. Himani.. I appreciate your efforts to bring this to the notice of the Indian citizens.. Shall definitely share this as much as I can and spread the word.. Hope we can do something better about it very soon..

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe there is a nexus of self interested people who profit from the forest fire. What amazes me is the apathy, whether it's deliberate or compulsive, of the locals who I'm sure rever the forest

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  4. This is nice thing you did. You just initiated this awareness. This should spread more than the forest fire. Hope you will get the answers for your questions soon..

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shame on us Indians. To destroy animals and Nature for cash.

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