NewsSouth News

Concerns Raised Over Aging Fire-Fighting Fleet in Karnataka

As the fire season looms, wildlife activists in Karnataka express apprehension regarding the state’s ability to combat wildfires due to 70% of fire-fighting vehicles being over 15 years old. With the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways enforcing a ban on vehicles older than 15 years, the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services (KSFES) faces a significant challenge.

Despite efforts by the Forest Department to seek an extension for using existing vehicles, concerns persist about the department’s capacity to respond effectively to forest fires. Wildlife activist Joseph Hoover highlights the potential repercussions, warning of adverse impacts on forests, households, and establishments across the state if vehicles are not replaced promptly.

Despite appeals by KSFES Director General of Police Kamal Pant to Minister Nitin Gadkari for time to replenish the fleet, a satisfactory response remains elusive. Advocates suggest exempting fire tenders from the regulation or applying the special purpose vehicles tag to them to ensure continuity of firefighting capabilities, especially during vulnerable periods like the upcoming fire season.

Brijesh Kumar Dikshit, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, acknowledges the issue and pledges to seek a one-year extension for using the aging fire extinguishing vehicles, emphasizing the urgency of the situation as the fire season approaches.