Forest fire in Patharia hills, officer recalled

Published : 25 Mar 2023 09:39 PM

In connection with the fire in Makhaljura and Dhalchara areas under the Baralekha Patharia Hills Reserve Forest of Moulvibazar, Nurul Islam, officer of the divisional division of the forest department, has been recalled. Baralekha range officer Shekhar Ranjan Das confirmed the matter. He said, "Senior authorities have recalled Nurul Islam, the officer of Samanabhag Beat." He has been attached to the Sylhet divisional office of the Forest Department. Meanwhile, a three-member committee formed to investigate the incident is working on the investigation. The concerned said that the investigation report will be submitted next Sunday.

Before this, a fire broke out in Makhaljura and Dhalchhara area of Samanbhag bit of the upazila in the afternoon on March 7. Bamboo trees and bushes of several hectares of forest land were burnt to ashes. As a result, the environment and wildlife habitats are under threat.

  Local people and environmental activists have complained that forest fires have been deliberately set on reserve for afforestation. In this, the beneficiaries set fire to the forest with the help of dishonest officials of the forest department. They believe that the fire has burnt about 40 hectares of forest land, bamboo trees and bushes. It has caused severe damage to the environment. Biodiversity in the area is under threat. 

The forest department is trying to cover up the incident. However, the forest department says that the fire started from the leftover cigarette left by someone. About 1.85 hectares of forest land has been burnt in the fire.

According to the relevant sources, the area of Samanbhag reserved forest under Patharia Hills Reserve Forest is 1 thousand 850 hectares. Samanbhag Forest is an evergreen forest area in the northeastern part of Bangladesh and is one of the protected forest areas in Bangladesh to protect flora and fauna. On the afternoon of March 7, a fire broke out in the forest area of Makhalzura and Dhalchara area of Samanbhag Bit. 

In the fire, several hectares of forest, bamboo trees and bushes were burnt to ashes. After getting the information, the forest department people tried for a long time and brought the fire under control. However, the natural environment of the forest has been destroyed by the fire, the wildlife habitat has been destroyed, and the wildlife is under threat. Nurul Islam, an officer of the forest department's sub-division division, made a general diary at the Baralekha police station on March 11 regarding the forest fire.

Local people, who did not want to be named, said the fire was set deliberately to plant trees in the forest. In the fire, various species of bamboo trees and bushes that grow naturally inside the forest have been burnt. Biodiversity has been severely damaged. A few elephants in the wild have fled to India fearing for their lives. The forest burned for five-six days. Even after informing the forest department people, they did not pay attention to it. If taken seriously in the beginning, so many forests would not have been burnt. It is clear that the people of the forest department are involved in the forest fires.

According to local environmental activist Khorshed Alam, officials along with reporters visited the forest area of Makhaljura and Dhalchhara area of Samanabhag beat. Initially, it is estimated that around 40 hectares of area has been burnt. On one side, the forest is burning and on the other side some people are cutting trees and bamboo from there. 

He said, "We have come to know that protected forests have been burned by planned fires for afforestation. Forest department people are involved in it. He also said that a nature forest cannot be created at will. But it can be easily destroyed. This protected forest should be allowed to remain as it is. Natural forests are loved by wildlife. 

Areas where elephants roam should have bamboo forests. If these are burnt and destroyed, elephants will disappear from the forest quickly. And if the elephants are lost, this forest will not have biodiversity. After the fire, the elephants fled from there to India in fear of their lives.

  "When the whole world is working on climate change, we cannot do the opposite," said Khorshed.

Baralekha range officer Shekhar Ranjan Das said on Friday night that someone might have smoked a cigarette and did throw the remaining part. It may cause a fire in the forest. On the day when the forest caught fire, the local beat officer tried hard to control the fire. The next day I went to the spot and measured with a GPS machine that 1.85 hectares of forest had been burnt by the fire. The leaves of bushes and trees have been scorched. In this incident, several beat officers made a general diary at Nurul Islam police station. Trees will be planted there to replace the damage caused by the fire. He said that a three-member committee has been formed to investigate the incident. The investigation is still ongoing. 

The investigation report will be submitted next Sunday. When asked whether the forest was set on fire for afforestation and whether forest department personnel were involved, he denied it.

  Baralekha Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Yardous Hasan said that about the fire in the reserved forest, several Beat Officers have made a general diary at Nurul Islam Police Station. The matter is being investigated.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, head of wildlife and nature conservation department, said that there was a fire in the Patharia reserved forest area. It has caused extensive damage to the nests of various species of animals, including many insects and birds. Many animals died. 

There has been serious damage to the environment. Forest animals will no longer remain in the forest in fear. They may move far away from the locality or forest.