| April 24, 2018
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30,000 ha of forests destroyed in Sindhuli: DFO

SINDHULI, May 5: Forest fires have affected large swathes of community forests in Sindhuli district. About 30,000 hectares forest in the district has been destroyed by forest fires this year alone, forest officials in the district said.

"Infernos have destroyed about 30,000 hectares of forests in Chure and Mahabharata areas. Prolonged droughts coupled with human errors have led to this catastrophe," said Navin Giri, chief of District Forest Office (DFO), Sindhuli. "Lack of awareness among the local consumers is to be blamed this huge loss," he added.
According to the DFO, forest fires have plagued the district since the past five months. Strong winds caused forest fires to spread very fast as the concerned authorities could not douse the flames on time.

"The community forests in the district mostly consist of pine trees. Such trees shed their leaves in summer, and the leaves catch fire very easily," said Deepak Sapkota, a local of Tanchura. "Adopting preventive measures is definitely better than trying to douse the fire later."

Two persons in the district have lost their lives in fire incidents this year. According to Inspector Bipin Ojha of the District Police Office (DPO), three-year-old son of Dudhraj Waiba, a local of Kalpabrishykha VDC-7, died after their house caught fire while preparing dinner. Likewise, Dhirmaya Karki, 65, of Bitijor-7, lost her life while attempting to douse fire in her house. The DFO said hundreds of houses in the district have been destroyed by fire.

Stakeholders stated lack of awareness as one of the main reasons behind the rising incidents of fire outbreaks. According to the DFO, locals set fires to forests intentionally to allow new nutritious grass grows for their cattle. Likewise, children playing with fire have also been blamed for some of the forest fires in the district.

"We have spent a large sum of money on several occasions to raise awareness among the locals about forest fire. However, it has not been effective," admitted Giri, chief of the DFO.