Recently Uttarakhand witnessed substantial wildfire which took more than 900 hectares of forest. Fire incidents were reported from all 13 Uttarakhand districts, and worst which were affected were Almora and Nainital. In both these districts, the forest are entirely covered with oak and pine trees which are considered as highly inflammable and cover about 16 percent of state’s forest cover. Yesterday afternoon, the fire spread till well known Corbett National Park too
Mamta Chand, range officer of Nanital forest division, said, however, rainfall and hailstorm following the fire brought some relief and also has mitigated the forest to some extent. Also, two large active forest fires also reported in Tehri Garhwal as well as Pauri Garhwal districts. Sadly since 9th May, the number of forest fire alerts reported is 2460 recorded by SNPP, i.e. Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership Satellite and MODIS, i.e. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-Radiometer recorded 231. As compared to MODIS, SNPP is much more capable of mapping small fires and can attain better accuracy.
Conservator of Forest (Western Circle) of Kumaon division, Parag M Dhakate, supposed ‘with the assistance of satellites we can now find out the pinpoint location. Previously it was not too easy, but with new technology, we can effortlessly reach the exact location fast.’
These recent fires have caused innumerable damage as well as devastating acres of green cover in the hilly terrains. People who are living in nearby villages which are close to forest light fires so that with first rains new patches of nutritious grasses appear. The leading causes of fire spreading were dry weather, high temperatures, as well as lack of rainfall, owing to these it makes difficult for authorities to contain them.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF), Jai Raj said ‘the current situation is under control, and the fire was due to anthropogenic reasons and because of negligence. At times people use to throw lit cigarettes unintentionally, also people living nearby forest burn their waste, which causes a fire. The fire department, forest department, SDRF and police all working to mitigate the fire. We are also witnessing that locals are assisting the department too.’
Wildlife reserves all across Uttarakhand also been affected by the fire. Yesterday afternoon, the fire spread till well known Corbett National Park too. With this, the Manda and Bijrani ranges of the park also lost a massive green cover. Field Director at Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Prasana Kumar Patro, alleged ‘the Haridwar range specifically Chandi and Mansa Devi area both which come under the Rajaji Tiger Reserve are most affected. As per reports about 32 hectares of forest have been affected, however, the situation is under control now.’
Uttarakhand loses a large part of its forest cover every year due to fire, and it is mostly during this time only. As per RTI, it was also revealed that more than 44000 hectares of forest which are equal to 61000 football fields have been damaged and totally destroyed since the formation of the state, i.e. in 2000. In this recent fire, the forest department faced the loss of over 17 lakh. This is the extent of loss, which can be calculated. But the rest loss due to pollution levels, air quality. Damages of rivers as well as glaciers, a number of birds and insects have not been calculated.