Eight forest fires reported on Margalla Hills in 15 days


ISLAMABAD: With the arrival of summer, incidences of fire have begun at the Margalla Hills.

Over the last 15 days, eight wildfires have been reported, the largest of which erupted in the Margalla Hills on Tuesday night and according to some Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials, is still burning.

However, CDA Member Environment Sanaullah Aman claimed the fire had been extinguished, but another fire erupted on Friday. He added: “[Friday’s fire] was extinguished by 250 of our officials.”

“Citizens’ carelessness is the main cause of fire incidents in the Margalla Hills. People throwing cigarettes and burning matches or even locals living in villages could be involved in the fires,” Mr Aman told Dawn. He said the CDA had extinguished eight fires in over two weeks.

On Friday, the city managers got together to discuss the frequent fires in the hills, which are spread over 12,605 hectares and witness a number of small and large fires every summer.

After being briefed, the CDA chairman Maroof Afzal directed the Environment Wing to deploy 300 more officials to curb the first incidents in the hills, a statement said.

CDA increases number of officials deployed, fire pickets in Margalla Hills

The press release stated that in order to enforce effective monitoring, the number of fire pickets in the Margallas has been increased from 15 to 30. Fire tenders, along with 50 officials from Emergency and Disaster Management have also been deployed at Pir Sohawa, who will work in shifts to assist the Environment Wing in case a forest fire breaks out.

Mr Aman told the meeting that the Environment Wing has taken consolidated steps to curtail forest fires in the Margallas, and other departments have also assisted the authority in curbing such incidents.

He said Army Aviation helicopters would be utilised in case of a fire in an unapproachable area, and Rangers personnel have also been sought to apprehend individuals involved in such incidents.

He said search dogs belonging to Emergency and Disaster Management would be used to locate elements behind forest fires, and a fire control room has also been set up and staffed to work around the clock in shifts. He said the local community has also been asked to cooperate in protecting the green cover of the Margalla Hills.

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