The Manipur government has sought cooperation from the local people to prevent forest fires in the State.

The principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), in a statement, stated that sudden surge in incidents of forest fires in the State has become a major cause of concern for the department in particular and the people in general.

It said that almost all the forest fires in the State are man-made, either intentional or accidental.

Firewood and non-timber forest product (NTFP) collection, charcoal making, burning of forests for hunting and illegal poppy cultivation, etc, are some of the causes behind forest fires, it stated.

It has been observed that forest fires are also caused by burning of debris in and around forests, discarded cigarette stubs, campfires left unattended and intentional acts of arson.

He said any person who enjoys rights or benefits from the reserve forests or any government servant residing near forest land are bound to prevent, control and extinguish the forest fires and assist the Forest officials in extinguishing such fires as provided under Manipur Forest Rules, 1971.

The PCCF further reminded that it is also the constitutional duty of every citizen to protect the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

He pointed out that setting forests on fire is punishable with imprisonment which may extend up to five years with fine under the Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 and relevant Sections of the IPC besides under the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Manipur Forest Rules, 1971.

The forest department appealed to all sections of society, including civil society organisations, voluntary agencies, youth, students, etc, to render assistance for preventing forest fires.

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