Fire Prevention Week, a weeklong awareness on the hazards of fire was inaugurated by Mizoram home minister R Lalzirliana on Monday at Administrative Training Institute in Aizawl.
Organised by State Level Fire Prevention Committee with an intention to create public awareness on the hazards of fire and the need for prevention, Fire Prevention Week will be observed from February 12 to 17th in the state of Mizoram.
“Prevention of fire should be observed year long, let this Prevention Week be an opening chapter during which a wide scale awareness be made across the state. Utmost precaution must be observed during the dry seasons of February, May and June,” R Lalzirliana, home minister of Mizoram said.
“Every year, forest fires destroy acres and acres of our forest reserve, to rebuild these virgin forest we need years and years, so prevention is not only better, but way cheaper than cure, most of these forest fires are the result of our negligence,” R Lalzirliana said.
It is reported that fire incidents in Mizoram is the highest in the country and one third of forest fire in the north east region occurred in Mizoram.
Majority of farmers in Mizoram practices jhum system of cultivation which requires cutting of forest and burning to one season’s cropping. Within a span of three months thousands of uncontrolled bushfires were recorded by the state forest department last year.
According to a recent report by the state fire and emergency services department, since 2011, nearly 695 forest fires have damaged property worth Rs 90 crore. Such fires, caused mostly by jhum cultivation, span a period of three months from March every year.
According to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the number of forest fires reported in Mizoram was 2468 during 2015. It was 2189 in 2014. There was an increase of 12.75% in the number of forest fires reported in Mizoram as compared to 2014. The number of forest fires reported in Assam was 1656 during 2015. It was 2536 in 2014. There was a decrease of -34.7% in the number of forest fires reported in Assam as compared to 2014.
“Majority of forest fires is caused by our negligence, despite coordinated efforts made by the NGOs, churches and the state government, thousands of forest fires are recorded every year. If we do not control this havoc, the toll will fall on us,” R Lalzirliana said.
R Lalzirliana appealed to the people of Mizoram, especially farmers to be extra vigil during the burning season of their jhum cropping system.
Apart from Aizawl, fire prevention week will be observed in all the other seven districts of Mizoram. Under the State Level Fire Prevention Committee, district level committees headed by the deputy commissioner of the districts are formed to create for effective awareness on the need for fire prevention.
Member Secretary of State Level Fire Prevention Committee, R Lalram Thanga, the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said Mizoram, till now is the only state that has had a fire prevention committee headed by the chief minister
State Level Fire Prevention Committee was constituted in 2000 under the banner State Level Forest Fire Crisis Management Group. On February 2, State Level Fire Prevention Committee issued a notice to all farmers in the state to burn their jhums before March 15.