Bihar’s advice to villagers — cook lunch early morning to avoid fire incidents

Spike in fire incidents coupled with losses due to COVID-19 lockdown has become cause of worry for farmers 

By C K Manoj
Published: Wednesday 08 April 2020
Forest fire in Uttrakhand's Almohra district. Source: Wikipedia

The Bihar government recently came out with a piece of advice for its villagers — cook lunch in the morning to save crops and other properties from being destroyed by fire.

The Bihar State Disaster Management Department (BSDMD) issued the advisory in view of alarming rise in fire incidents in the last few days that destroyed standing Rabi crops.

According to BSDMD, morning winds were feeble and prevented fire from spreading wild and fast.

“The summer season is here and westerly winds are blowing. This has increased the possibility of fire incidents. But it can be checked. One should cook lunch before 9 am and extinguish fire completely after that,” the BSDMD said in a long advisory issued to villagers.

It also warned villagers against cooking food during time when winds were blowing and burning stubble in the fields.

It asked the villagers to organise ‘havans’ — a ritual burning of offerings such as grains and ghee, held to mark births, weddings and other special occasions — strictly in the morning.

Several villagers said they were cooking in the morning out of compulsion. “We leave our homes early in the morning to harvest standing crops and to avoid the sun. That’s why we cook food early so we could carry it with us,” said Manish Kumar, a farm labourer from Bihar’s Aurangabad district.

Some villagers, however, said they had been strictly following the government guidelines.

“The fire incidents increased in recent weeks and we are taking every precaution. Everyone tries to cook in the morning,” said Dilip, a farmer.

With standing Rabi crops in the fields, increasing incidents of fire have become a matter of serious concern.

Local media has been routinely reporting fire incidents gutting crops every day. But the government has no data on the exact number of fire incidents this year so far.

This has spelt trouble for farmers and labourers, who are already dealing with losses in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.  

Meanwhile, the state government has begun reviewing about 35 lakh applications of ration card holders that were earlier rejected in a bid to rush food to the poor during lockdown.

“There are some 35 lakh applications for ration cards which were rejected earlier. We are reviewing them again and the process will be completed soon,” food, civil supply and consumer affairs secretary Pankaj Kumar Pal said.

He added that the department was trying to issue 66,000 more ration cards, applications for which were pending.  

The state government announced that five kilogram rice and one kg pulses would be provided to every ration card holder. It also fixed timings for categories of ration holders to ensure they got it easily. While morning slot (7 am-10 am) has been fixed for older people, evening time (2 pm-4 pm) was fixed for women. The time between 10 am-2 pm has been fixed for all categories of ration card holders.

According to an official report, there are 1.68 crore ration card holders in Bihar. The state government provides financial assistance of Rs 1,000 to every ration card-holding family.

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