Senate body on Climate Change visits fire pickets, control room in MHNP

The recent fire in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, that also entered into the MHNP, was severe, and was controlled by joint efforts of IWMB, CDA and the KP Forest department.

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change led by Senator Seemee Ezdi on Friday visited the fire control room and pickets in the Margalla Hills National Park.

On the occasion, they were informed about the firefighting arrangements by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The chairperson of the Committee was accompanied by Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem, Senator Keshoo Bai, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed who also visited two firefighting pickets at Pir Sohawa Road and Gokina top in the national park.

Chairperson IWMB Rina Saeed Khan further briefed on the IWMB endeavours to protect the national park.

She said the fire season started from April to June in Margallas, where pine needles, that are highly inflammable and the reason for bush fires in the national park, fall in this season.

Khan said the Board had recruited 36 individuals through proper recruitment process that also included forest and firefighting staff, adding that the Board had a total of 60 staffers.

“Moreover, 400 CDA fire staff and locals also chip in during firefighting efforts to put out the fire amicably”.

This season, she said seven fires flared up in Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP), of which five were minor ones.

The recent fire in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, that also entered into the MHNP, was severe, and was controlled by joint efforts of IWMB, CDA and the KP Forest department.

“We cannot leave our pickets, as the key areas become vulnerable to man-made fires. However, strict vigilance is maintained as wildfires increase in fire season”, Rina added.

She informed that 90% fires were man-made in the MHNP, whereas the TikTokers involved in glamourising bushfire were taken to task, while three of them were detained and search for the remaining culprits was underway.

The Board, she said had completed the inquiry and the perpetrators were tracked, where the Divisional Forest Officer Abbottabad was pursuing the case.

According to Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), six months to three years imprisonment was the penalty for starting a deliberate bushfire, she told the Committee members.

Senator Abida Azeem raised her concerns over serious bushfire in Balochistan’s Koh-e-Sulaiman range that damaged very valuable pine trees, wildlife and birdlife.

Responding to Senator Abida, Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman commented that the fire incident occurred in the Koh-e-Sulaiman range of Balochistan was a matter of grave concern.

“We cannot intervene in the matters of the provincial government, but as citizens can share our concerns on the matter”.

The TikToker glamourised the fire incident in KP, which was a criminal misconduct, and should be held accountable as per the law, she added.

Senator Mushahid Hussain queried the Board chairperson for no use of firefighting kits by the staff and suggested that instead of makeshift arrangements, holistic, modern and well-designed gadgets should be used for firefighting.

Senior IWMB Member Z.B. Mirza also explained the MHNP ecology and challenges to the Committee members.

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