Funds to combat forest fires, officials in Uttarakhand on toes
To combat forest fires in the Himalayan state, the government has distributed more than ₹10.50 crore, including ₹6.50 crore from the cash credit limit and ₹1.50 crore from the treasury that was distributed in January and February, followed by ₹2.50 crore in March that was received from the Centre’s forest management funddehradun Updated: Apr 01, 2017 20:38 IST
The Supreme Court stay on the Uttarakhand High Court order of March 29, making the divisional forest officers accountable for controlling forest fires, has come as a welcome reprieve for forest officials working tirelessly to check the natural calamity.
To combat forest fires in the Himalayan state, the government has distributed more than ₹10.50 crore, including ₹6.50 crore from the cash credit limit and ₹1.50 crore from the treasury that was distributed in January and February, followed by ₹2.50 crore in March that was received from the Centre’s forest management fund, a top forest official said.
“Unlike last year, we are not short of funds this year,” said Gambhir Singh, principal chief conservator of forest (planning and finance).
“We have distributed ₹10.50 crore to the forest divisions and have asked officials to keep the corpus for the coming months when the forest fire season will be at its peak,” he told Hindustan Times.
In 2016, more than 4,500 hectare of forest was gutted. The fire season starts from February 15 and lasts until June 15.
This year, in the last month and half more than 94 hectare of forest has been gutted, incurring revenue loss of more than ₹1.66 lakh.
Until now, 60 forest fires incidents, including 19 in Kumaon, 25 in Garhwal, nine in Shivalik and seven other forest fire-prone areas have been reported from across the state.
In the wildlife reserves, the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary has reported four forest fire incidents and the Nanda Devi National Park has registered three incidents until now.
The high court also had directed the government to take special measures and construct artificial water reservoirs for retaining soil moisture.
The direction was given especially for the fire-prone areas with pine trees, the needles of which are highly inflammable. Combustible pine needles support spread fires in the forest areas.
“We had been working on these lines and have strengthened water reservoirs,” said RK Mahajan, head of forest force.