|Burma: Junta gives directives to prevent fire during jhuming|
|Saturday, 05 February 2011|
4 February 2011: To prevent fire from spreading to farming areas during traditional jhum burning, local junta authorities have ordered farmers to make a 100 feet dividing line (indigenous fire preventing system of the Chin-Kuki-Zo). The directives come with the onset of the dry season this year in Chin state, western Burma.
"We always make a preventive line before jhum burning, but fires occur because of winds in the dry season," said a local from Ton Zang Township.
Besides, the authorities have also warned that farmers will face severe action if a fire occurs. It has also ordered burning of jhumland by 15 March 2011.
We have to take into account if the weather is good or not. Sometimes, there is rain in March and we delay till our farms are dry for jhum burning. We cannot fix a date for burning," said a local.
Traditionally, Chin people have been burning jhum near farming areas and see to prevention of forest fires spreading to other areas. Some farmers are punished for being carelessness by the state authorities.
Last year during jhum burning all houses of Pa Kheng village in Matupi Township were burnt down and the authorities punished the villagers for carelessness.
The junta authorities allow jhum burning in Chin state as the ashes of burnt trees and leaves restore the soil balance. But environmentalists argue that the extent of devastation it causes to the forests does not make restoration of soil balance worthwhile.
The authorities have coined a slogan "Chin state to be Tea State" aiming to put an end to the destructive jhuming and provide an alternative sustainable development model for the farmers. But it plan has not succeed in the state yet.