Forest fires: Kumaon worst hit, officials pray for rain | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Forest fires: Kumaon worst hit, officials pray for rain

Wildfires have damaged over 1,200 hectare forest cover in Uttarakhand since February 15. A loss of over Rs 20 lakh is estimated in 782 fire incidents. Wildfires have razed 794 hectare of land in Kumaon so far, 254 hectare in Garhwal, 123 hectare and 44.10 hectare in protected wildlife areas in Shivalik.

dehradun Updated: Jun 06, 2017 21:06 IST
Nihi Sharma
Forest officials are praying for rain as it helps in containing wildfires which peaked in summer.
Forest officials are praying for rain as it helps in containing wildfires which peaked in summer.(HT File)

DEHRADUN: The forest department is praying to the Rain God for showers in Kumaon belt where wildfires are running riot and destroying hundreds of hectares of precious green cover

For the past few weeks, the plains were recording day temperature 3 to 4 degrees above normal. Forest officials are hopeful of less wildfire from June 15, when the official period of monsoon begins. The meteorological centre has predicted light to moderate rain and thunder showers at most places on June 6 and 7, same intensity of rainfall at a few places on June 8 and at many places on June 9.

Wildfires have damaged over 1,200 hectare forest cover in Uttarakhand since February 15. A loss of over Rs 20 lakh is estimated in 782 fire incidents. Wildfires have razed 794 hectare of land in Kumaon so far, 254 hectare in Garhwal, 123 hectare and 44.10 hectare in protected wildlife areas in Shivalik.

“Showers were reported in some hilly districts of Uttarakhand. But Terai belt and plains are still reporting fire incidents. We have engaged 6,000 firewatchers who will be engaged at least till June 15, when the monsoon season officially begins,” nodal officer, forest fire, BP Gupta told Hindustan Times on Tuesday. “We are concentrating largely on divisions that have reported high incidents of fire. Apart from weekly monitoring of these divisions, we are interacting with firewatchers and staff.”

The good news: No mortality reported this season. Only one villager was injured on April 18 in Ranikhet. There have been over 30 incidents in which people were fined for carelessly igniting fire, while one person was jailed.

In Uttarakhand, forests are divided into three categories: reserve forest, civil and soyam forests, and panchayat forests

Almora forest division is worst hit with fires razing down a total of 337.4 hectare of forest, including those in civil and soyam area. Pauri divison is second with 96.70 hectare, followed by Bageshwar 86.30 hectare and Pithoragarh 82.40 hectare, Haldwani 64 hectare, Ranikhet 50.50 hectare and Champawat 49.40 hectare.

The forest divisions of Bageshwar, Dehradun and Tehri reported maximum fire incidents. On June 4, six incidents were reported from various places including Bageshwar, Pithoragarh, Chamoli, Nainital and Pauri causing destruction to nearly 9 hectare of forest cover.