More than 8,000 seedlings to be planted

No culprit has been caught for starting the major forest fire which destroyed 437.81 acres of blue pine forest in Langjophakha,Thimphu in the afternoon of February 23.

Currently, the Dzongkhag Forest and the Thimphu forest division will be planting seedlings of oak and broadleaf trees in the forest areas destroyed by the fire.

The dzongkhag forest officer, Ugyen Tshering, of Thimphu Dzongkhag Administration said the seedling plantation will start at an appropriate season in June.

“By second or third week of May, digging of the ground for the plantation of the seedlings will be done, and only five hectares of the area affected by the fire will be covered at the first. Only the area where the trees are dying will be planted with the seedlings as not all the trees have been affected by the fire,” Ugyen Tshering said.

An additional 20 to 25 hectares of the area will be planted with the seedlings of oak and broadleaf in the second phase of seedling plantation, he added.

The total budget for the first phase of plantation has been estimated at Nu 100,000 which just includes the labour costs and other necessary works except for the seedlings which are in stock.

The budget will be released from the dzongkhag division and more than 8,000 seedlings will be planted during the first phase of the plantation.

Ugyen Tshering said this is the first major forest fire in Thimphu which was contained after four days with more than 700 people fighting the fire.

Investigation conducted by the Thimphu police revealed that a fire had broken out at a construction site which belonged to Thimphu Dzongda’s wife. About Nu 10 million worth of construction materials was destroyed by the fire.

There were also three huts in the vicinity of the forest fire in Langjophaka. While the people living in the two huts were not present during the time of the incident, however, the wife of man living in the third hut was with her three children at the time of the fire. She had left her three young children unattended while she had gone to pick up the dried beef hung behind hut.

Police also questioned three men playing khuru about few meters away from the huts during time of the fire incident. One of the men reported seeing the smoke coming from the storehouse at the construction site that was already on fire.

The three men had rushed to the fire site and had tried to control the fire but all in vain.

All persons present during the time of the forest fire have been questioned by the police but nothing much could be gained to rule out who the culprit is.

With no adequate evidence and witnesses, police are unable to nab the culprit responsible for the forest fire.

However, Ugyen Tshering said that the case is still under investigation.

Chencho Dema/Thimphu

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