Champua: Though forest officials have successfully tamed the fire of Ukhunda forest under Champua range, they are yet to find out the miscreants behind the forest fire.
The fire had destroyed a substantial number of medicinal plants and herbs the forest is famous for. The fire affected vast stretches of the jungle. After several attempts by the forest officials, the fire was extinguished.
Locals held the timber mafia responsible for the fire. “The timber mafias usually collect dry leaves and twigs and conduct a bonfire to make them warmer. The practice is usually seen in winter. And this bonfire is the main reason behind the forest fire,” alleged locals. The fire has forced wild animals out of the forest pushing them to move towards human habitations.
During summer, mahua trees are in blooms. Cowherds find mahua flowers as a good source of their earning. “Cowherds find it difficult to collect flowers from the ground due to dry leaves. So they set the dry leaves on fire which in turn affects large swathes of the forest,” added forest officials.
When contacted, Ukunda Forester Bhagirathi Mishra said, “Steps will be taken to arrest the miscreants.” “The VSSs are instructed to make regular visits to the forest to ensure the forest is free from any such damaging activities,” added Mishra.