Forest fire along East-West Highway affects vehicle operation in Rautahat

Rautahat, Apr. 12: The Rautahat section of the East-West Highway has been covered with smoke due to the forest fire in the surrounding area. The atmosphere looks murky and people are facing difficulty while driving. 

According to Bimal Thakur, Information Officer for the Division Forest Office, Rautahat, the smoke generated from the forest fire contains carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane and other harmful gases. 

According to various studies and reference materials, 99 per cent of forest fires in Nepal are caused due to human negligence while less than one per cent are caused naturally. It causes a huge loss of wildlife and vegetation 

Wildfire destroys vegetation, firewood, timber, grassland and saplings, and forest regeneration and biological diversity are reduced.  It causes atmospheric pollution, irregularity in rainfall patterns, climate change, and disturbs ecological systems, said Thakur. 

Loss of soil fertility, disturbance to the development and construction work, damage to the nearby settlements and destruction of valuable flora and fauna are some of the social and economic effects of wildfires. 

The smoke emitted pollutes the atmosphere and causes respiratory diseases and irritation in the eyes.

The drivers moving along the highway said that it was difficult to drive two-wheelers and four-wheelers when the environment becomes foggy causing a burning sensation in the eyes. Shailesh Giri, the driver of a bus running between Birgunj and Gaur, said that chances of accidents escalate when there are visibility problems.

Sushil Acharya, Traffic Police Inspector of the District Traffic Office, Rautahat, said that the occurrence of road mishaps has increased after the forest fire made the atmosphere murky.

Although various programmes are conducted every year by the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Department of Forest and Land Conservation, and Division Forest Office to control and manage forest fires, no significant achievements have been seen. 

President of the District Community Forest Federation Bedhari Dahal said, “The main challenge in forest fire management is the lack of modern equipment and tools to extinguish fires, the lack of skilled manpower, the lack of separate provisions related to fire in the law and regulations, and the lack of state investment in fire control.”

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