Forest Fire by the villagers!
After starting from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station at 4.00 AM, we were near Gangtok at around 5.50AM, then we were shocked to see the devastating fire and smoke on entire hills. Nothing was visible, the fire was almost everywhere. I asked the jeep driver about the fire he could not put any focus on it. But there was fire and smoke, polluting thehills and atmosphere. I thought, I should report the matter to Pollution Control Board, the camera was inside the bag, it was almost dawn. So I took out my cell phone and took the picture from speeding jeep.
Later in Gangtok, I learned, that it was age old tradition by the villagers to burn the small bushes and dry trees, so that they can cultivate some vegetables, maize, millet, corn and even Hash( It is not a banned item for the hill people, who smoke it regularly). The villagers normally fires the hills just after winter at the begining of the Fall.
The fire is controlled and supervised by the forest department, in case it spoils the vegetation, they will come with help(?), which may include praying to rain god!!
Whatever, may be the reason, it spoiled the atmosphere and pollute too much. We just could not see the Kanchenzonga even for a while in all four dayes we were there!