ISLAMABAD:Capital Development Authority (CDA) has set up 32 pickets inside Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) to check and control forest fires.

Spread over 126,054 hectares, the national park witnesses many fires every year but bigger and more frequent fires have been reported in the park over the last few years that have been damaging for plant life along with the environment.

“For this year, we have set up 32 pickets while 600 officials [both regular and temporary staff] have been deputed on hills to control forest fires,” said CDA Environment Director Rana Tahir.

Speaking to Dawn on Wednesday, he said that the staff is performing duties during Eid holidays and the lockdown period; their attendance is imperative to keep a check on fire incidents.

He said fire season has started as during the last one month, two small fire incidents were reported.

Mr Tahir requested citizens not to light cigarettes while being in the national park as the cause of fire in many cases has turned out to be human error.

“I request people not to light cigarettes and avoid cooking in the national park area to reduce risk of fire incidents,” he said, adding residents throw trash in open areas which causes fire to spread.

“We have installed 25 bins in various parts of the national park. So it is my request to all citizens, please use these bins to keep the environment clean,” he added.

It is relevant to note here that besides regular staff, CDA every year hires locals from villages located in the national park areas, for three months for firefighting and to keep a check on the hills. In case of fire, the locals use traditional methods to extinguish it.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2021

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