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All You Need to Know About the Uttarakhand Forest Fires

This is one of the worst forest fires the state has seen, with atleast 40 incidents across 11 districts.

Updated
India
3 min read
CM Tirath Singh Rawat said that there had been 40 incidents of fire across 11 districts.
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The Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday, 6 April, took suo moto cognizance of the rising cases of forest fires in the state. The court ordered the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to appear before it via video conferencing on Wednesday, 7 April, as per ANI.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat confirmed that there had been at least 40 incidents of fire across 11 districts.

Working to tackle one of the worst forest fires the state has seen are around 12,000 forest workers and 1,300 fire crew stations. So where is this fire spreading, what caused it and what is being done to contain the blaze?

All You Need to Know About the Uttarakhand Forest Fires

  1. 1. Which Places Reported Incidents of Fire?

    The fire, having covered 62 acres of forest land in Uttarakhand, has claimed the lives of four persons and seven animals so far. Two persons were injured.

    CM Rawat said that there were 40 incidents of fire across the districts of Nainital, Almora, Tehri Garhwal, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Dehradun, Haridwar, Baheshwar and Pauri Garhwal.

    In the last six months, the state has reported a total of 928 forest fires. Of these, 600 have been in reserved forests and another 350 in forest panchayat areas. It is estimated that the fires dealt a loss of Rs 40 lakh over the last six months.

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  2. 2. How Are the Blazes Being Contained?

    Uttarakhand has deployed 12,000 forest personnel, and 1,300 fire stations. A National Disaster Relief Force team is being constitutes, and a helpline number – 1800-180-4141 – has been set up by CM Rawat for forest fire related issues.

    On the CM’s request, two helicopters have been sent by the Indian Air Force. One of these will be stationed in Gauchar to collect water from Srinagar, and the other in Haldwani, to collect water from Bhimtal Lake to extinguish the forest fires, reported by Hindustan Times.

    The fire is being monitored with the Forest Fire Alert System, that has been developed by the Forest Survey of India. The alert sends texts messages with accurate, real-time updates, using satellite information from NASA and ISRO.

    Forest officials are closely monitoring the fire and have been asked to not take any leaves during this time. The CM informed media outlets that bushes in residential areas are being cleared to stop the spread of the blazes.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Is the Government Doing About This?

    In the wake of the forest fires in Uttarakhand, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the government had ordered the deployment of the National Disaster Response Force teams and helicopters in the state. Shah also said that he had been briefed about the situation by CM Rawat.

    Rawats request for two helicopters to get a hold on the escalating forest fires was approved by the Centre. He called for an emergency meeting with state and forest officials to strategise effective ways to contain the fire and assess the ongoing environmental crisis.

    Expand
  4. 4. Why Is This a Matter of Concern?

    Forest fires occur regularly in Uttarakhand between February and June. However, this year, it is a matter of concern because the forests are burning 4.5 times faster than they did last year. The peak time for such fires is considered till June 15. So, there is a concern about the damage this will cause in the next three months.

    Uttarakhand is home to more than 700 species of birds and animals. Environmentalists said that nests of sparrows had been gutted and they feared for the survival of many species.

    CM Rawat indicated that paucity of rain, especially during winter, was less than normal this year, and is a major reason behind rising forest fires in the state. Environmentalists attributed the reduced rainfall to global warming and climate change.

    An official told The Indian Express that the current situation was alarming due to “dryness in the atmosphere, high temperatures, wind velocity”. The report further cited Uttarakhand’s lack of soil moisture as a key factor of the forest fires, with the rainfall being deficient by 20% in 2020.

    Forest fires can be naturally caused by extreme heat, dryness and friction as well from dry wood, leaves and weeds in the forests. A dry spell will worsen the situation.

    Forest fires are often started due to human activity, or are man-made as per forest officials. Rawat attributed the cause of the fires to “deliberate acts” by “mischievous elements”, as per ANI.

    (With inputs from ANI, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Which Places Reported Incidents of Fire?

The fire, having covered 62 acres of forest land in Uttarakhand, has claimed the lives of four persons and seven animals so far. Two persons were injured.

CM Rawat said that there were 40 incidents of fire across the districts of Nainital, Almora, Tehri Garhwal, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Dehradun, Haridwar, Baheshwar and Pauri Garhwal.

In the last six months, the state has reported a total of 928 forest fires. Of these, 600 have been in reserved forests and another 350 in forest panchayat areas. It is estimated that the fires dealt a loss of Rs 40 lakh over the last six months.

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How Are the Blazes Being Contained?

Uttarakhand has deployed 12,000 forest personnel, and 1,300 fire stations. A National Disaster Relief Force team is being constitutes, and a helpline number – 1800-180-4141 – has been set up by CM Rawat for forest fire related issues.

On the CM’s request, two helicopters have been sent by the Indian Air Force. One of these will be stationed in Gauchar to collect water from Srinagar, and the other in Haldwani, to collect water from Bhimtal Lake to extinguish the forest fires, reported by Hindustan Times.

The fire is being monitored with the Forest Fire Alert System, that has been developed by the Forest Survey of India. The alert sends texts messages with accurate, real-time updates, using satellite information from NASA and ISRO.

Forest officials are closely monitoring the fire and have been asked to not take any leaves during this time. The CM informed media outlets that bushes in residential areas are being cleared to stop the spread of the blazes.

What Is the Government Doing About This?

In the wake of the forest fires in Uttarakhand, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the government had ordered the deployment of the National Disaster Response Force teams and helicopters in the state. Shah also said that he had been briefed about the situation by CM Rawat.

Rawats request for two helicopters to get a hold on the escalating forest fires was approved by the Centre. He called for an emergency meeting with state and forest officials to strategise effective ways to contain the fire and assess the ongoing environmental crisis.

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Why Is This a Matter of Concern?

Forest fires occur regularly in Uttarakhand between February and June. However, this year, it is a matter of concern because the forests are burning 4.5 times faster than they did last year. The peak time for such fires is considered till June 15. So, there is a concern about the damage this will cause in the next three months.

Uttarakhand is home to more than 700 species of birds and animals. Environmentalists said that nests of sparrows had been gutted and they feared for the survival of many species.

CM Rawat indicated that paucity of rain, especially during winter, was less than normal this year, and is a major reason behind rising forest fires in the state. Environmentalists attributed the reduced rainfall to global warming and climate change.

An official told The Indian Express that the current situation was alarming due to “dryness in the atmosphere, high temperatures, wind velocity”. The report further cited Uttarakhand’s lack of soil moisture as a key factor of the forest fires, with the rainfall being deficient by 20% in 2020.

Forest fires can be naturally caused by extreme heat, dryness and friction as well from dry wood, leaves and weeds in the forests. A dry spell will worsen the situation.

Forest fires are often started due to human activity, or are man-made as per forest officials. Rawat attributed the cause of the fires to “deliberate acts” by “mischievous elements”, as per ANI.

(With inputs from ANI, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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