May 18th, 2022
By Asim Ahmed Khan
Forests, spread over several kilometers in Musakhail and Sherani districts in Southern province of Pakistan, home to hundreds of thousands of olive and pine trees, that have been on fire for the past several days are endangered.
The forest fires in Musakhail and Sherani districts of Balochistan could not be brought under control even after several days had passed.
On May 9, a forest fire broke out in Mughalkot area of Balochistan due to an alleged lightning strike on the mountain range of Mount Sulaiman, which immediately engulfed the forests of Musakhail, Sherani, and other regions.
This is the fourth incident of forest fire in Sherani, Musa Khel, and now Kohlu mountain range.
According to Ali Sherani, a resident of Darazanda Tehsil in Sherani District, “It is not easy for humans to control the fire because of the difficult terrain in the area and it can be controlled by helicopter but unfortunately, it is the sixth day and the government has not taken any steps to save the people here from the loss of billions of rupees.
According to Director General Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Naseer Nasar, the situation in the area is under control, as 90% of the affected area, has been covered.
“It’s raining in Sherani district today, hopefully, it will put off fire itself,” he added.
Deputy Commissioner Sherani has also forwarded a letter to Director General PDMA Balochistan to conduct rescue operations through Helicopter.
On the other hand, the founders of the Usher Movement, an organization working for the protection of forests and wildlife, is also complaining about the role of government.
According to a report sent by Deputy Tehsildar Zamri Plasin to Deputy Commissioner Musakhail: “Levies Force teams were sent to Zamri Plasin on May 13 to report the fire.
“It was a natural fire, which was brought under control on May 15 with the help of Levies Force, using 16 fire extinguishers,” the statement said.
Similarly, Deputy Commissioner Musakhail Yasir Hussain said that timely action was taken by the district administration and Levies teams reached the affected areas. The fire in Zamri Tehsil was brought under control.
Abid Marwat, Divisional Forest Officer, Musakhail Forest Department, said that it was not clear whether the fire had reached here from Mughal Kot (which is part of Sherani district) or from Dera Ismail Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). While doing so, the forests in Zimri have been saved from great damage.
Secretary Forest and Wildlife Balochistan Dostain Jamaldini said that the forest fire caused by lightning in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reached Sherani, Musakhail, and Kohlu districts due to strong winds.
Salmeen Khpalwak, the founder of the Usher movement, says the initiative to fight the Zamri fire is positive, but the government needs to take urgent action to control the fire in other areas.
“Because if negligence is shown, it will not only damage the trees but we will also be affected in the future due to climate change,” he said.
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo also took notice of the forest fire in Zmarai Plasin sub-tehsil of Musakhail district and expressed deep concern over the damage to olive and other ancient and valuable forests.
He also directed preparing emergency response measures and survey reports on forest damage.
He said that all available resources should be utilized to control the fire and the protection of forests and wildlife should be ensured in all cases.