Shimla: A forest fire has destroyed a huge stretch of prime chilgoza pine forest in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district, a voluntary organisation said Tuesday.
It said thousands of native chilgoza, juniper and birch trees have been completely gutted in the Akpa-Jangi region of Pooh division in the month-long forest fire that died out naturally with heavy snowfall and rain in the region in the past three days.
"Besides chilgoza trees, the scrub forest was totally wiped out along with rare medicinal herbs and plant species," Nature Watch India national convener and animal rights activist Rajeshwar Negi said in a statement.
The chilgoza pine (pinus gerardiana) trees are a source of livelihood for people in remote areas of the state.
The NGO has demanded that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh should order an inquiry into the failure of the district administration to either control the fire, or report and seek the assistance of the state and central governments.
"Those responsible be identified and penalised for wilful negligence and dereliction of duty," he said.
Negi demanded that a detailed survey of the loss and damage caused by the forest fire to the flora and fauna be made and an extensive afforestation of native plants and trees be undertaken thereafter, involving village communities, to regenerate the forest and ecology of the area.
Besides Kinnaur, Chamba district's Pangi and Bharmour areas have a large portion of chilgoza trees.