Islamabad : Following hectic efforts of 24 hours, the fire-fighters of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Saturday controlled the fire in Pir Sohawa and Saidpur area of the Margalla Hills National Park. Over 200 fire-fighters and workers of the Environment Wing participated in the operation.
CDA Chairman Aamir Ali Ahmed and other senior officials monitored the operation. According to CDA sources, the fire was reported in Talhar, Saidpur and Pir Sohawa areas of Margala Hills between 10 am and 12 noon on Friday. As per the latest reports, the fire-fighters have been able in extinguishing fire in 90 per cent area of Talhar over Trail 6. The fire burnt shrubs and bushes in over 60 acres of area at three places. At Pir Sohawa 25 acres of the forest area have been affected.
Fire on Margalla Hills during the peak summer season has become a common phenomenon. The CDA officials most of the time hold visitors responsible for the eruption of fire due to their negligence. However, it is yet to be ascertained as to whether the recent incidents of fires were due to negligence or done intentionally. The concerned formations of CDA have been put on high alert and they usually come into swift action in case of fire.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has closed all walking trails for an indefinite period after series of fire incidents in the heart of the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).
The details provided by the officials revealed that the administration is quite worried about the rising fire incidents and wants to put in place an effective mechanism to ensure the protection of trees in the MHNP.
An official said “We have decided to launch a comprehensive investigation into the recent fire incidents. Apparently, the negligence of visitors is believed to be the main factor of these incidents but we will probe the issue from all angles.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the cigarette butts were found out from the woods in the last two fire incidents that showed that the visitors violated the ban on smoking cigarettes in MHNP and did not care about safety of the forest area.
The IWMB is likely to form committees comprising local people that would be assigned the task to keep vigil over their respective areas.
The details further revealed that IWMB would consult the Islamabad District Administration and Capital Development Authority (CDA) to monitor activities of the visitors who regularly come in large numbers to enjoy green areas of the Margalla Hills.
The officials are also trying to get footages of the CCTV cameras that may help identify the culprits responsible for the fire incidents.
There is a complete ban on smoking cigarette and bonfire in MHNP and IWMB has also announced that those who would be found involved in violation of this ban could be fined and sentenced.
The official said that IWMB is also considering a proposal to launch pass system for entry into the walking trails and introduce spot-checking to ensure no visitor carries a matchbox or cigarette lighter during trekking on walking trails.