Showing posts with label Forest Fire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Forest Fire. Show all posts

21 May 2012

Losing Drinking Water for Lemon Grass Oil

I am watching the people of Mongar struggling for drinking water on BBS and asking to myself- has the time come already? By any logic Bhutan should be the last country worrying about drinking water given the bounty of our forest resources, but we are already losing so many water sources across the country.
With so many fresh water rivers flowing down the valley the world must think we are crazy to complain about water shortage of all the things- we are forgetting the moral of Kuchu&Kumbu story ourselves. But the question is not about going down to the rivers yet, we have been blessed with so many spring water sources running down our hills which we forgot to value so much so far.
Kuensel Photo
As I watch the people of Mongar running with their empty buckets and complaining I remembered the countless forest fires this Dzongkhag had over the last many years- of which many were deliberate. Mongar was blessed with lemon grass, the herb that adds scent to many cosmetic and toiletry items in the international market. And because it generates good income the forest was deliberately set on fire every year for the greed of better lemon grass growth, but those many fires are finally charging their interest- Mongar is now paying the huge price, they had traded they fresh water sources with lemon grass oil.

This Article is not supported with any research and therefore please treat it as an opinion.

12 April 2012

Don't Let Their Death Go in Vain

Last Sunday afternoon's forest fire cost heavily on two families and the police force and I join the nation in offering my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. But I urge them not to let their death go in vain. The questions that arise with that unfortunate incident should not be cremated with their bodies. For once we should understand the meaning of such death, we should confess that it could have been avoided. Let's stop agreeing that death happens because of destiny.

Fire Chopper in Action
It's time we question our ability and capacity to firefight. Hundreds of people are mobilized without relevant equipment to chase the razing fire uphill, which is not only foolish but dangerous. It's our luck that we didn't lose  many lives so far, but we must be the only nation who so much prides in its forest cover and haven't done our best to protect it. We can't fight forest fire with branches and twigs in the hands of exhausted men. We can't drive our fire engines uphill through the forest- they breakdown even on roads.
We don't need scientists to think about a solution, a few think-tanks on Twitter were already discussing about Fire Choppers, which is already being used across the world to battle forest fire. If we really mean forest is our biggest assert then we should invest in protecting it with best resources in the world. The cost of trees we lost so far could have purchased enough fire choppers- it would be wiser to safe the trees than to plant saplings.
The bad, The Ugly
It's also time we question the efficiency of the fire engines and other vehicles our firefighter use, such as the DCM truck that has already run over 200,000 Km. For that matter even the public buses. How many accident must we see, before we realize that some types of vehicles are not safe at all. Theoretically, service vehicles can't run over seven years (see Bhutan Observer) but who care about it?
The ugly TATA and Eicher buses are still polluting the air and beauty of the nation. Coaster buses have proven their worth- both in safety and comfort- and we should be insisting on importing them, and the same applies to Fire Engines. The big ugly ones are as old as me and takes hours in preparation before heading for action, and during the operation it fails suddenly. This brings the moral of the firefighters down, because despite all the bravery and effort they land up being insulted by the onlookers. However, the smaller fire engines work magic with instant-operation capability, and with all logic we should be getting more of those. But so far, as things go, we are still clinging on to those old one that we know will arrive only after the show is over.
The hero who comes after the show is over
In some countries, incidents like this lead to a lot of relative investigations and then reforms, here we cremate the bodies with a lot of respect and that's it. What shall we change first?

27 December 2011

Reporting Forest Fire

As seen from PHSS
There is hardly any forest in Phuntsholing and the little they have was on fire this morning. During the tea break we saw a thick curl of smoke rising over the Toresa and right then we knew it was from across the river. I quickly took a snap in my iPad and reported it on Breaking the News- Bhutanese Social Media, the group I created on Facebook to tip off news media. 
We made a mistake of assuming that the police would have known by then since there were over 40,000 people on the home side of the river. But just to confirm we made a quick call to Police and I did the talking- to my surprise it was a breaking news for them. I had to show them the location of the fire.
Later today I realized two things: that the hundred things happening around here keeps the police too focused on the town to see anything in the forest, and that even over 12 hours later there was no respond on my Breaking News page. I hope the fire is contained by now, else the wind tonight is going to take it on a long ride.

28 January 2011

Shadow of the Smoke

I was driving back to Wangdue, and I was alone. I was in a rush to cross Dochula pass before it gets dark. But the forest fire above Changjiji football ground made me stop for a while. I have never seen a forest fire from such close range; with the Wang chhu between me and the fire, I could feel the heat wave. There were hundreds of people from my side of the river bank and there were hundreds on the fire side but only the policemen, and some people in fire fighter's suit were battling the fire. 

Kuensel Image-probably taken from my side of the river.
The smoke from the fire rose high and its shadow fell over me and soon over Thimphu but as if it wasn't our problem we just looked on. For a moment, I wished I wasn't going to Wangdue. The fire soon destroyed a hut on its way across the hill despite the effort of three fire engines. And because fire engines couldn't climb the hill, fire soon escaped their range and ran up the hill. When I was watching, the fire was still climbing the small hill and if hundred men ran up the hill the fire could have been controlled. But one man was in rush to reach Wangdue and others had their own excuses. Men engaged in fighting the fire were greatly out numbered by men watching the fire show. 

The shadow of the smoke soon fell on Changjiji football ground and I was utterly shocked to see 22 strong men running after a ball and not at all bothered by the fire which was burning just above them. It wouldn't have made a difference even if they had stopped their game for a while but it sure showed what substance they were made of. I don't know who won the game or who scored the winning goal but our country lost 250 acres of forest before they finished their match. 

How easy it is, to sit and watch, or just go on playing a football match when it is just the shadow of the smoke that falls upon us!