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Despite awareness programmes conducted at divisional level, forest fires continue to take place as a result of arson and human activities, the Forest Department has noted.
Conservator of Forests (Protection and Law Enforcement) of the Forest Department, PAGS Nandakumara explained that they were also engaged in the construction of fire strips and fire barriers in areas surrounding the forest perimeters, borders, boundaries and buffer zones.

He added that although they did institute legal action against arsonists as it was difficult to nab them in the act, instances of filing suit was rare.

He said that certain forest fires had spread due to paddy fields being set on fire or fires started in domestic settings inside houses raging uncontrollably while burning cigarette butts flung and discarded have also contributed to the scourge.

“With regard to the fire strips and fire barriers, we clear the relevant area of any inflammable material and in the case of fire strips, we make them 33 feet wide”, said Nandakumara.

“We do not have wildfires here. Meetings have been conducted for awareness at the divisional secretariat level. Yet no matter how much awareness activities one does, there are those who learn and do not learn. How does one find a person who threw away a lighted cigarette butt in a forest? We catch those suspected, if we receive any eyewitness account. However, the trend for taking legal action is less. The Police too can take action based on the law which has provisions to tackle such crimes,” he added.
RLJ