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Snow Avalanches

                   The high mountain ranges and higher reaches of District Kinnaur remains snow covered for most part of the year as it receives heavy snowfall during the winters. The intermittent snowfall in the district forms many layers of snow/ice on the ground, which remains frozen during the winters. The snowfall during the month of February and March cause the mass of snow move down the slopes of the mountains and the valleys. This is called ‘Snow Avalanche’.  The snow avalanches are unlike glaciers are smaller in mass and faster in movement. The flash points of avalanches are: Bhagat Nalla, Tinku Nalla, Pyala Nalla (Jangi) and Ralli on the National Highway-22.  Besides, the avalanche is observed in the valleys and slopes of the various villages in the district particularly in Lippa, Jangi, Rispa, Thangi, Kunnu-Charang, Pangi, Barang, Kalpa, Mebar, Roghi, Sangla, Rakchham, Chhitkul, Batsehri, Shong, Sapni, Yula and Bhaba valley etc. where there is heavy snowfall in the month of February and March.

      a). Forest Fires

                  Forests have a high degree of susceptibility to forest-fires and these fires have already destroyed precious forest wealth and caused incalculable harm to the flora and fauna of the entire affected regions of the district. The damage from fire is much more pronounced in mountains region as the difficult hilly topography is invariably a hindrance. It has there been observed in the past, once started the fire assume mammoth proportions causing extensive damage to the biological wealth. Due to heavy local dependence upon the forests, the socio-economic effects of fires are also substantial for the communities residing in and around these forest areas. Major forest-fires are occurring in the hills because of the accumulation of the leaf and litter in the forests. District Kinnaur is spread over an area of 6,407 sq. Kms. out of which, approximately 546,970 hectare land is covered by forest and rest of the area is particularly above the Tree-Line remains covered by snow/ under cultivation or built up area of villages/human habitations. The Kalpa and Nichar Sub-division of the district are relatively thickly forested and the Pooh Sub-division of the district is sparsely covered by the vegetation and forms part of the ‘Cold Desert’.  There are 3 wild-life sanctuaries in the district namely Lipa-Asrang, Rakchham-Chhitkul and Rupi-Bhaba. 

                   The incident of forest-fire is not observed very commonly and frequently in the district. It is very less observed in the Sub-division Pooh and is observed in Nichar and Kalpa Sub-divisions.  The forest-fire in these areas is generally caused by traditional practice of burning the old vegetation/grasses and fallen pine leaves, and woods for proper regeneration of vegetation. Smoking in forests, camp-fires by tourists, picnickers, and local people, use of traditional ‘JHOKTI’ (Mashaal/torch) made of Turpentine rich woods of pine and Chilgoza tree (pinus gerardiana)) by local people for movement during nights. Use of traditional harvesting of thorny bushes for fodder and more importantly short circuiting/ sparking of electrical transmissions lines crossing over the forests.  


         b). Domestic Fires

                   District Kinnaur comprises 65 panchayats having 234 habited villages and 426 un-habited villages with average population of 335 habitants per village. Most of the inhabited villages are compact and nucleated in structure and the slopy built up area comprise houses constructed very close to each other. In some cases, a person can jump from one roof to another. Most of the traditional houses in Kalpa and Nichar Sub-division and Moornag tehsil and some villages of Pooh tehsil in Sub-division Pooh are made up by using large number of wood in the form of beams, binders, columns, roofs and floors to make the house earthquake resistant and keep it warm and cozy as well. The houses in Hangrang Sub-tehsil and some villages of Pooh Sub-teshil are made up mainly of stone, mud/clay, thatch and thin woods due to scarcity of trees in the area. The clustered houses that too over a slopy land in the villages except Hangrang Sub-tehsil with the large scale use of timber in the houses and heavy stock of dried fuel-woods for domestic use and dry stock of fodder for animals make the houses very prone to fire in Sub-division of Kalpa and Nichar and some parts of Pooh. The fire-incidences in villages is also caused by use of Mashaal/candles, Matchsticks, short-circuit, sparking, LPG leakage, sparks from traditional chimneys and use and stocking of highly inflammable and combustible materials like Paints, Kerosene, Petrol, Diesel etc


Figure 7: Kalpa village in Kinnaur