RAWALPINDI: No fire incidents have been reported in the forests of the Rawalpindi district, including in the Margalla Hills, Murree, Kotli Sattiyan, Kahuta, Galiyat, Panjar, and Lehtrar during the season this year. However, forest officials said that they are bracing for the most intense part of the season due to commence from June.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday, Forest Nazim Saqib Mahmood Sheikh said that in the first six weeks of the annual fire season, they have fortunately not come across any fire incidents.
Further, to prevent forest fires, he said that they have taken a host of measures this year. This includes setting up large ponds inside the forests to act as a source of water to quickly put out any fire. Moreover, they have set up field camp offices for the District Fire Officer in all the forests of the district.
The leaves of all forest guards and forest officers have been cancelled so that they keep a constant vigil. People visiting the forests have been barred from bringing axes, knives, saws, matches and lighters.
Furthermore, a network of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras has been set up to constantly monitor paths leading into the forest. Pickets have been set up on the main routes into the forest.
Sheikh added that they have also banned tree logging along with tree cutting machines in a 10-kilometre radius around forests.
On the arrival of June, the period where most fires are reported, the officer said that they will be beefing up security in the forests.
Once the season is over, Sheikh said, they hope to launch a massive plantation drive in the forests once the monsoon season starts from July 15.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2020.