Odisha sends team to control fire in Similipal. Image Source: IANS News

Bhopal, April 5 : There has been a recent spurt in fire incidents in the national parks of Madhya Pradesh. The sudden spike has raised questions such as whether it is really an accident or part of a larger conspiracy? Normally, with the onset of summer, forest fires in national parks along with other parks tend to increase, but the number of incidents that have happened this time have increased steadily since January and the figure is many times more than in previous years.

Recently, the biggest incident of wildfire occurred in Bandhavgarh National Park located in Umaria district which caused a lot of damage. According to experts, this forest area is spread across one and a half thousand square kilometres. About one per cent of the area has been badly damaged due to the fire. Fire incidents were reported at least 15 to 20 places simultaneously. Many of these locations fall under the buffer zone and are part of the core area of Bandhavgarh National Park.

Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Vijay Shah said that the wildfire that took place in Bandhavgarh has caused a lot of damage, modern equipment is desperately needed to deal with such a situation. Meetings have been called on April 6 and 7 to discuss the issue. Not only this, fire-fighting aircraft can be used to put out the blaze. Efforts are on to get this.

Vincent Rahim, director of Bandhavgarh National Park, said, "The fire was controlled in 24 hours while a committee has been set up to assess the damage. We will be able to tell about the actual damage once we get the report." Similarly, some areas of Madhav National Park in Shivpuri district have also witnessed frequent wildfire incidents. A fire broke out in the Gatavaya area, which spread over an area of 3 km. The park staff was engaged throughout the day to douse the flames. Fire broke out first in Balarpur area, and then it spread to Ganguly forest on Saturday.

Ranger Suresh Sharma said, "The Ballari Mata Temple is at the periphery of the park. People come here in large numbers to offer prayers. They light diyas. It is due to this the forest catches fire which spreads quickly to surrounding areas due to dry conditions." Apart from this, fire incidents have been also reported in Panna National Park since the last fortnight. The park management says the fire incidents generally happen in summer, and this time it is no different.

A forest expert says, "This fire is not a usual occurence. The main reason for this may be conspiracy and negligence. No measures were taken to protect the forest from recurring fires. Apart from this, there is a shortage of watchmen. Encroachment attempts are also made by some people. They use this method to clear the forest and choose the convenient time of summer to do this. Also, some poachers set the forest on fire to catch wild animals."

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