Uttarakhand Forest Fire
A massive wildfire has been burning in the forest of Garhwal region of Uttarakhand which has gutted around 1,600 hectares of forest land. The fire has affected the forests of Pauri, Chamoli and Almora districts and over 1,500 villages surrounding the area are at risk. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported till now.
Reasons for the forest fire
An extremely hot and dry spell of summer with absence of any pre-monsoon rainfall have been cited as the primary reason of such forest fire. Besides, no earlier precaution was taken as the forest management was not prepared for this. Another reason for such fire is clearing of timber from chir pine trees, during which, the highly combustible needles are left behind. These needles provide abundant fuel for forest fires.
Actions that have been taken
The state administration has deployed firefighters into service. The state has sought assistance from the Centre. PTI sources have reported, Uttarakhand governor KK Paul has asked that the number of personnel deployed to douse the fires be doubled from 3,000 to 6,000. The Governor is also planning to deploy NDRF companies to conduct rescue mission. The state government wants to declare five districts – Almora, Pithoragarh, Nainital, Rudrapur and Pauri, which is a total of 74,000 hectares of land – as drought-affected. This is not the first time in 2016 that these forests have been witnessing wildfires. At least 38 cases of forest fires have been reported in the last three months.