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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Satellite aid to contain bush fires

Silchar, Dec. 2: The Centre has decided that the forest cover in Mizoram will be monitored through satellite imagery to deal with bush fires, which break out during winter and summer months.

According to forest department sources in Aizawl, the bush fires wreak havoc for miles and also take a toll on human lives.

Rosiama Vanchhong, the principal chief conservator of forests in the state, said last night that the forest department authorities had no other alternative.

Satellite imaging will be used to spot the wildfires and then adopt measures to prevent their spread.

Senior officials of the fire and emergency department said 288 outbreaks have been reported between January and November this year and seven persons, including two farmers, have been killed in the fires.

The damage to property is estimated to be Rs 17.13 crore.

Vanchhong said jungle fires generally occur because at least 70 per cent among them use the slash and burn type of cultivation, and often use fire to clear the lands for farming.

He said in order to persuade the farmers to give up jhum cultivation, the government launched a scheme, New Land Use Police, to provide incentives and promote alternative forms of horticulture.

The Young Mizo Association is spearheading the campaign.

Sources said each year, forest fires damage between 400 and 600 square km of forest areas.