Uttarakhand has been burning since February. Three months have passed and large swathes of forestland are in jeopardy. The fast-engulfing forest fire has already claimed nine lives and the calamity, which is often triggered by human interventions, refuses to scale down. The magnitude of forest fire in Uttarakhand reminds us of the Australian wildfires that damages flora and puts human lives at risk.
What are the possible causes of Uttarakhand Forest Fire?
While allegations are being levelled against the timber smugglers and they are being accused of setting the forests on fire, there are some natural reasons for the forest to catch fire. Dry weather, very high temperatures, and windy conditions are certainly fanning the fire and helping it to spread. The government has decided to study the reasons behind major fires, especially in summer, and prepare an action plan accordingly.
With the 11-member Air Force team joining the fire-fighting operations in Uttarakhand’s Bhimtal and Pauri, it is time to have a look at the facts surrounding this tragic incident.
- Over the last 88 days, the raging fires destroyed nearly 3,000 acres of forest cover and claimed seven lives.
- In 2016, fire has been detected at more than 1,200 places. Almora, Chamoli, Nainital, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh, Tehri and Uttarkashi have been declared the worst affected areas.
- In the last three months of forest fire, 922 incidents have occurred with 1890.79 hectares of green cover getting blighted.
- The forest fires in Uttarakhand have severely affected the wildlife reserves across the state. Going by the statistics, 70 hectares in Rajaji Tiger Reserve and 60 hectares in Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary had come under fire.
- The Corbett Tiger Reserve and Kalagarh Tiger Reserve, which are home to famous Royal Bengal tigers – has already witnessed 48 incidents of forest fire that destroyed 260.9 hectares of the forest.
- Taking such a severity into consideration, the concerned Environment Minister has begun trial runs for a pre-fire alert system that will issue warnings via SMS about possible fire outbreaks in the country. The idea is to inform the forest department even before the fire starts spreading.
- The Uttarakhand governor has increased the number of personnel deployed to control the fire to 6000. He has asked the SDRF, locals and district administration to do their bit.
- The Central Government has earmarked Rs. 5 crore for the fire-fighting operations. Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Home Ministry are closely monitoring the situation.