The ongoing fire fury has shattered the hopes of border-dwellers to harvest benefits of Indo-Pak bonhomie as wheat crop, spread over thousands of acres of land all along the International Border (IB), has been completely destroyed in the last 10 days.
Starting from Paharpur of Kathua to Chicken Neck to Pargwal sector, 198 kilometer International Border with Pakistan, is witnessing farm fire in the last 10 days in which standing and harvested wheat crop of thousands of farmers, is totally destroyed.
"Over 500 farmers only in Arnia block have lost their standing crops due to fire. Same is the situation in all other blocks of the border areas," Balbir Kour, Sarpanch of Jabowal Panchayat told The International Business Times.
"Earlier there were sporadic incidents of farm fire but this year standing crop spread in thousand acres of land is destroyed," she said, adding, "In my Panchayat over 1,200-acre of the wheat crop has been destroyed so you can calculate total damage due to fire fury in other areas also."
At Treva village- situated just a stone-throwing distance from Pakistan, wheat crop in over 400 acres was destroyed in a fire that engulfed the fields on Thursday afternoon. The same is the story of Raipura area of Kathua district where 5,000-acre crop was destroyed three days ago.
Due to short-circuit in a power line, the fire started at the village called Sai and soon it engulfed the entire border belt of R S Pura and Arnia sectors. Troops of Border Security Forces (BSF), deployed to guard the border, assisted the locals to douse off the fire but to no avail. The standing crop was already damaged when fire tenders reached the spot.
Fire Vigil Committees already constituted to check farm-fires
Fire Vigil Committees (FCVs) have already been constituted with the help of the elected Panchayat members to conduct round-the-clock vigil of the harvest wheat crop.
These committees usually conduct night vigil in their respective villages to keep a strict watch on any fire incident in the fields. Members of these panels patrol throughout the night in the harvest fields. These committees will remain in touch with emergency services so as to call fire fighting teams in case of any incidents.
Borders farmers' hopes to yield bumper crop
In view of the complete peace and tranquility on the International Border after Indian and Pakistan announced on February 25 to strictly adhere to a ceasefire, farmers in the border belt were hoping to get a bumper crop this year.
For the first time after 15 long years, farmers had fearlessly cultivated their land beyond the fence with the help of the local administration and now they were hoping to reap the crop.