The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to stop fire incidents in forests by fixing responsibility on concerned officials and recovering the cost of damage from them irrespective of their ranks. The move comes after the government recently used men and machinery including Air Force choppers to sprinkle water on raging fires near the Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra on the Trikuta Hills in Jammu.
A senior state forest official told this newspaper that they have got leads in this fire incident. “No one would be spared for such a heinous crime and very soon responsibility would be fixed in this incident,” state Forest Minister Lal Singh told the media. The government took immediate steps to bring the fire under control and also closed chopper services to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine as a precautionary measure. “The fire in the Trikuta Hills have been controlled and it started in the ridge adjoining areas to Banganga and later spread to the forests near the Katra helipad,” said Jitendra Singh, Divisional Forest Officer of the area. The government has decided to convey to the forest officials that they will have to adhere to their duties and any kind of negligence would not be spared.
“Penalties would be imposed on all the officials irrespective of their position in the forest department and the cost of the damages would be recovered,” a senior official said.