Forest Deptt’s watchtower a white elephant?

The helplessness of Forest Department to check the forest fire in summer has come to fore when a devastating fire engulfed the area surrounding a department’s own watchtower near here yesterday. The flora and fauna suffered heavily in the pine forest area in and around the watchtower. The watchtower the first of its kind in this area was set up by the department in 2001 to keep a check on area of around 300-sq km comprising the two forest divisions of Solan and Kunihar.

However now it is appeared that the watchtower has proved a white elephant due to the irregularity in manning of area from there. The watchtower was reportedly built at the cost of Rs 2 lakh atop a hill facing this town near Chewa village in Chunjri forest area. From this watchtower one could see the Dharampur, Subathu, Solan and Parwanoo forest ranges under Solan forest division and part of Kuthar range under Kunihar forest division.

From watchtower the department was supposed to notice the fire on time mainly to prevent the loss of forest cover. Interestingly for better communications and effecting monitoring the watchtower would be equipped with wireless sets as well as keeping a mobile mini truck ready in certain point to ply immediately in effective area with relief measures.

Moreover the three forest workers would be permanently deployed at the watchtower and in case of any fire, these forest workers would contact the base stations at Dharampur, Garkhal and Solan. From these stations teams to control the fire would be deputed to the area affected.

Ironically the things seemed to be failed in taking any practical shape as a fire at a few distance from watchtower could not be noticed what to think to cover the area of 300-sq meter.

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