After Uttarakhand, Forest Fire Now Rages in Himachal and J&K

A longer spell of dry weather and a significant rise in temperatures have contributed to the disaster.

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A massive fire broke out in forest areas of Bathuni and Gambr of the Rajouri forest division in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. (Photo:PTI)

As forest fires took a heavy toll in Uttarakhand, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir weren’t far behind as large tracts of forests in both states were engulfed by flames.

As many as 378 forest fires have broken out in different parts of Himachal Pradesh this summer due to inflammable parched pine needles, following a dry weather and a sudden rise in day temperatures.

According to The Indian Express, forty-one fires have been reported across six districts in Himachal Pradesh since 30 April. The Himachal CM told the media that forest fires are not a new phenomenon in the state and are caused by the rise in temperature.

Fires occurred on 3,000-hectare areas, mostly in lower areas of Solan, Sirmaur, Bilaspur, Kangra, Hamirpur, Shimla and some other places but all these were ground fires caused by burning of highly inflammable dry pine needles.
SP Vasudeva, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Himachal Pradesh

Four people had been arrested on suspicion of starting forest fires, he added.

Vasudeva said two cement companies are already purchasing pine needles and efforts are being made to persuade other cement manufacturers to buy the pine needles in bulk as these are used in the furnace.

Exact reports of the loss and area affected will be available tomorrow (Tuesday). Telephonic and other information received during the day have confirmed major forest fires in Taradevi forests of Shimla, Bilaspur, Kunihar , Hamirpur, Nurpur and Dharamshala in Kangra, besides parts of Una.
SP Vasudeva, Chief Conservator of Forests
An IAF helicopter pressed into service to control Uttarakhand forest fire. (Photo: IANS)
An IAF helicopter pressed into service to control Uttarakhand forest fire. (Photo: IANS)

The centrally sponsored ‘Intensive Forest Management Scheme’ has been launched and the task of creating fire lines and deputing the ‘Fire Watcher’ is being done under it.

Satellite links have been provided and alerts are sent to concerned forest guards and other forest officials about fire incidents within their jurisdiction, he said.

Fire fighters extinguishing the forest fire at Maldevta area in Dehradun on Monday. (Photo: PTI)
Fire fighters extinguishing the forest fire at Maldevta area in Dehradun on Monday. (Photo: PTI)

Indian Air Force helicopters have been scooping and dumping water from reservoirs in an attempt to douse the flames, but operations were hampered by poor visibility.

In the neighbouring Uttarakhand, three NDRF teams have been deployed with over 135 personnel as part of multiple firefighting teams to combat the raging forest fire in the jungles of the state.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, said:

The situation is now totally under control after three NDRF teams were pressed into service along with the Airforce with MI-17 helicopters

Forest fire in Uttarakhand have destroyed about 2,269 hectares of jungles in several districts and claimed at least seven lives till now.

An aerial view of Uttarakhand forest fire. (Photo: IANS)
An aerial view of Uttarakhand forest fire. (Photo: IANS)

In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Prakash Javadekar said that in 2016:

  • 291 forest fires have broken out in Uttarakhand
  • 2,422 in Chhattisgarh
  • 2,349 in Odisha
  • 2,238 in Madhya Pradesh
  • 1,638 in Maharashtra
  • 1,719 in Assam.
  • 1,416 in Andhra Pradesh

In 2014, 19,054 forest fire incidents were reported, while 18,451 forest fire incidents took place in 2013.

Sources reported that fires had broken out in the Rajouri forest division of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. The Gambr and Bathuni areas were the principal areas affected by the fire, according to reports.

Fire also broke out in a buffer zone of Tadoba Tiger Reserve in the Chandrapur district, of Maharashtra. As per media reports, the fire is under control now.

In Nepal, 11 people have died while trying to fight fires that have razed 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) of forest across the country, the worst in six years.

This year we have experienced a longer spell of dry weather and the temperatures have risen significantly, contributing to the disaster.
Krishna Prasad Acharya, Official from Nepal Forest Ministry

(With inputs from PTI and Reuters.)

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