IWMB, CDA put out fire after 16 hours near Monal

Official says blazes reported in National Park at two locations of Monal, Talhar village

APP June 10, 2022
Another fire broke out on Sunday on the Margalla hills in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB


The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), Capital Development Authority (CDA), Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad and ICT Administration after arduous efforts of 16 hours on Thursday put out the ravaging fire in the Margalla Hills National Park.

Two fires were reported on Wednesday in the National Park at two different locations of Monal and Talhar village where the latter was put out easily after a few hours of firefighting operation, said IWMB Director Dr Tariq Bangash while sharing updates of the repeated fire incidents in the National Park.

Dr Bangash said the fire at Monal point was reported at 10am in the morning on Wednesday, which was first put out at 3pm but it rekindled due to strong winds and harsh terrain which was finally controlled at 1am in the wee hours. He added that the fire control room established at the IWMB office helped to report and line up coordinated efforts of CDA and IWMB and others for promptly responding to fires in an adequate and successful manner.

The IWMB director informed that a total of 100 firefighters took part in the effort where as many as 40 personnel of CDA and 35 of the IWMB and the remaining of the MCI and ICT administration were engaged in the operation.

A large area near Monal got affected due to fire whereas no life loss was reported but the ecological of flora and fauna was priceless, he added. He underlined that coordination and cooperation among civic agencies was imperative to respond to challenges like forest fires and the efforts during fire operations proved it.

Director Environment CDA Irfan Niazi said that the authority had requested for a helicopter to assist in the firefighting efforts. A fire brigade’s water tender and 10 bowser tanks participated in the effort.

ICT Deputy Commissioner also directed to seal the road for traffic leading to Daman-e-Koh and Monal due to public safety reasons as the fire was feared to spread further due to heavy winds.

Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Wednesday said the Ministry of Climate Change's task force has identified forest risk areas to ensure strict vigilance and monitoring of high risk regions and directed the provinces to replicate the system rolled out during the meeting.

She said the task force report on forest risk areas identified was shared with the prime minister. "Every province will have to mark low to high risk areas for strategic deployment of resources to contain ravaging forest fires," she said, adding that every province would have to mark low to high risk areas for strategic deployment of resources during forest fires where the high risk areas to be monitored daily.

"Not only in Margallas there are repeated fires it almost in all other areas like Murree, Kahuta and yesterday it occured near NUST and also in other areas. Despite extinguishing efforts forest fires have become a nuisance for us," she added.

She said that three fires were again reported in Margalla hills, where two of them were contained and one was to be put out as firefighting operation was underway. "I request the masses to remove garbage and dry twigs that become source of forest fire during searing heat.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2022.


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