Devastating fires have destroyed dozens of acres of dense forest cover at multiple places in north Kashmir’s Kehmil, Zangli and Karnah forest divisions damaging region’s ecology, devouring fir trees besides the medicinal herbs, and threatening tribes living in the foothills of affected areas. The residents immediately informed the forest officials but their “half-hearted” measures couldn’t contain the fires. “A couple of forest employees today came to the area to control the fire but in the absence of required machinery and appropriate manpower, the officials failed to control the raging fires,” said the resident Mohammad Anwar to the local media.
Residents of the area says that the an organized network of smugglers is active in the region and alleged the forests were intentionally set on fire in connivance with concerned forest officials to burn the trunks of smuggled trees, as the several trees were chopped down by smugglers recently in the recent past.
A forest official wishing anonymity, said that forest fires are ignited by the security forces patrolling the forests to check the insurgent movements occasionally, when burn bushes to stay warm, or they leave behind burning cigarettes butts. H