It has been eleven days since the ancient pine trees and olive trees are on fire in Balochistan’s Sherani district. Disturbing images of forest fire have pained every sane person on this planet. Three people lost their lives and four sustained injuries while battling the flames of fire in the ancient forest.
The scale of the destruction was and is massive. Nevertheless, the Balochistan government and the federal government’s immediate response was poor. At the government level, only the poorly equipped civil administration and a few forest guards were making abortive attempts to put out the fire.
Officials fail to assess the damages initially when the fire erupted
The officials failed to assess the damages and the scale/spread of the fire initially. However, gradually, when the fire continued to spread, the provincial and federal governments realized the sensitivity of the matter.
Commander 12-Corps Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali took serious notice of the forest fire and directed the frontier corps personnel deployed in the area to assist the civil administration. The military also provided helicopters to put out the fire. Chief Minister Mir Quddus Bizenjo and Commander 12-Corps flew to Zhob and had an aerial view of the destruction caused by the fire.
Responsibility needs to be fixed
Responsibility needs to be fixed. First of all, there has to be an investigation that what caused this fire. Forest guards are already deployed in the area and their core responsibility is to protect the ancient forest. Second, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA)’s delayed response should be investigated.
The PDMA should go beyond the distribution of flour and rice. Rather, the authority should be well-equipped with the latest machinery and trained manpower to make sure timely responses to such natural disasters.
Balochistan is prone to all-natural disasters including earthquakes, flash floods, drought, etc. The government should not make PDMA an ATM machine rather it should tackle such situations in an effective way.
PDMA should go beyond the distribution of flour and rice
The government needs to revamp the PDMA and prepare an effective mechanism to give response to such disasters timely. First and foremost, the security of forests across Balochistan should be tightened and all-out efforts should be made to protect our natural assets.
The provincial and federal governments should also announce a special relief package for the people of Sherani and other affected areas since they were financially dependent on these pine and olive trees for a long time. Environmental experts on national and international levels should be engaged to evolve a strategy for the regrowth of the Sherani forest.