Community forest in Palpa engulfed in wildfire for the last three daysWildfires have affected 1,558 hectares of forestland in the district since mid-March, according to the Division Forest Office.
The Kukhuredhap Salleri Salghari Bilaunepani Community Forest in Ward No. 3 of Ribidikot Rural Municipality in Palpa has been engulfed in wildfire for the last three days.
The fire that started from Ribidikot Ward No. 3 in Kasyeuli is making its way towards Sirukharka.
“On Friday, the fire had reached Chhatiwan and was moving towards Maureni Bhir,” said Krishna Bahadur Dangal, a local resident of Sirukharka.
Over 80 families say they are living in fear of the wildfire spreading to their settlements.
“Our houses, properties and lives are at risk,” said Karna Bahadur Pandeya, a local resident. “We take turns to form fire lines in the forest to prevent the fire from spreading further but our efforts have been in vain.”
According to the local people, heavy gusts of wind have made their efforts to douse the fire futile.
“The fire spreads rapidly at night,” said Dangal.
According to the Division Forest Office in Palpa, wildfires have affected 1,558 hectares of forestland of 68 community forests and a national forest in the district since mid-March.
“Incidents of forest fires have been reported since mid-March. But the situation has worsened in the last one week or so,” said Yamlal Pokharel, a ranger at the Division Forest Office. Around 200 to 300 hectares of forestland are engulfed in wildfires on a daily basis. “The office has been collecting details of destruction from all local units. Forest fires have been reported in all forests of the 10 local units.”
According to the data of the District Police Office in Palpa, over 30 houses and sheds have been destroyed by wildfires in the current fiscal year.
“The administration has requested security personnel to stay on a high alert and directed them to contain fires near human settlements,” said Chief District Officer of Palpa Yogendra Prasad Pandeya.
The Division Forest Office says the situation has been further worsened due to the prolonged drought this year.
“Last year, forest fires came under control easily as we received adequate rainfall,” said Mohan Paudel, a division forest officer in Palpa. “This year, we haven’t had much rainfall.”
Padamlal Shakya, chairman of a community forest coordination committee, says the wildfires have destroyed precious medicinal herbs and young plants.
“The fires have affected the entire biodiversity of Palpa’s forest areas,” he said.
According to him, incidents of forest fires are reported mostly in Nawalparasi, the bordering parts of Rupandehi and the Chure hills.
Meanwhile, 22 community forest consumers groups under Ribdikot Sub-Division Forest Office and Tansen Sub-Division Forest Office have provided the necessary equipment to security personnel to contain forest fires.
“Firefighting gears such as suits and helmets worth Rs 335,000 have been provided to the security personnel of Gorakh Dal Battalion, District Police Office and Armed Police Force in Tansen, the district headquarters of Palpa, to help contain the wildfires,” said Upendra Aryal, assistant forest officer at the Sub-Division Forest Office in Ribdikot.