The current fires in Uttarakhand are so predictable that it’s become almost a tradition in the hilly state, though not a positive one and rather a calamity. With plenty of forest area, it’s also becoming harder for state government to cover the area efficiently in times like these and provide required aid in avoidance of such misfortunate catastrophe which ultimately results in loss of life, human and wild.
Looking at the data from previous years, generally the state faces this crisis with forest fires each summer. And much to the concern, not only it is the root cause of lost forest wealth, but the gases emitting through the burning of forests pose much threat to flora and fauna, disturbing the ecology and environment.
Uttarakhand, considered as a Dev Bhoomi (Land of Gods), has abundant natural wealth in the form of as much as 7.5 lakh hectares of forests. But with increasing temperature every summer, the state is losing this invaluable asset. Though the entire blame can not be imposed on climate change, it is us, the humans, who are more responsible for these forest fires. Man-made causes are the primary reason behind the forest fires as reports reveal. Due to no rain or less pre-monsoon rains in summers, even a single spark or source of fire is enough to turn acres of forest area into flames. And this spark is commonly because of the carelessness of people.
Many environmentalists have raised their voice in the regard and government too issues advisory each year so that as much as population can be made aware of the issue at hand here. As it is said, Prevention is better than cure, the same rule applies here. If we, the people and the government could have adopted even few measures, we just might have not to face this ravaging act of fire in our flourishing forests. Uttarakhand, full of landscapes and thick cover of forests in hills, receives numerous reports of forest fires during summers, starting from the end of winters in February. This year, the issue has not only been similar, but more devastating. As much as 1900 hectares of forests have been engulfed by fire within a week as informed by Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand Mr. Shatrughan Singh and at large, government officials have put all in to douse the fires that have rampaged in several districts including Pauri, Nainital, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Almora. The fire has also put around 1500 villages in a dangerous situation. Due to the absence of a government in state, Governor K. K. Paul has taken charge to carry on the rescue operations. Even Central government has been asked to provide assistance in the rescue work as if not stopped now, the future of Dev Bhoomi’s forests is in danger.
Authorities were even forced to shut down the National highway 58 that connects pilgrimage Badrinath for few hours as the fire had reached nearby road. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was also called to take the command of rescue work along with fire department. The authorities are also encouraging locals to participate in the rescue work and report any such incidents as early as possible. Locals have been asked to report forest fires to the respective district collectors.
Uttarakhand Governor is taking adequate steps in his power and today held a meeting with district officials. He also sought help from Central government, which in response assured him of all the support. NDRF sent three teams of 135 personnel and Indian Air Force also deployed 11-member team with Mi-17 helicopter to control the fire in state.
With the extending fire across the state, famous national sanctuaries such as Jim Corbett National Park, Kalagarh Tiger Reserve, Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary are at much risk. If the fire is not controlled within time, it might extinguish what we have always been trying to conserve, the endangered species of animals and plants.