Centre deploys NDRF choppers, team to tackle Uttarakhand forest fires, CM Rawat calls meeting

By | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
Apr 04, 2021 03:11 PM IST

Uttarakhand forest fires are generally reported between the months of February and June and peak in May and June.

The Centre on Sunday rushed teams and helicopters of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to control the forest fires raging in Uttarakhand, Union home minister Amit Shah said, even as chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat called an emergency meeting to take stock of the situation. 

Uttarakhand has reported incidents of forest fire at 964 places and minister Harak Singh Rawat has said that four people and seven animals have died. (Representative Photo/HT)
Uttarakhand has reported incidents of forest fire at 964 places and minister Harak Singh Rawat has said that four people and seven animals have died. (Representative Photo/HT)

“I called the chief minister of the state Shri.@TIRATHSRAWAT to get information about the forest fire in Uttarakhand. The Centre has directed @NDRFHQ teams and helicopters to be deployed to the government of Uttarakhand to control the fire and prevent loss of life,” Shah’s tweet, roughly translated from Hindi, said.

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After the virtual emergency meeting, chief minister Rawat said they hope to control the fires. "We asked the Centre to give us two choppers to take control of the fire situation. We have been given the same. We are hoping to douse fire using choppers today," chief minister Rawat said, according to news agency ANI.

State minister Harak Singh Rawat said that the fire has broken out in 964 places across the state and that four people and seven animals have died, according to news agency ANI. The minister also said that 2 people have been injured in the forest fires. “Weather made it challenging for the state government. The chief Minister and I are monitoring the situation separately. We'll try to douse the fire with helicopters,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

Forest fires are generally reported in Uttarakhand from February to June, with a peak in fire incidents in May and June when temperatures spike triggering the blaze. According to officials, forest fires started in many districts in winters and hill districts like Nainital, Almora, Tehri and Pauri have reported most of the incidents.

Under fire from experts and opposition parties in the state, who have accused the government of "not focusing" to tackle the situation, state forest department officials have said that the number of forest fire incidents are increasing this year due to "change in climatic conditions." Officials have also said that the department is fully alert and prepared to fight the forest fires. "Forest fires have increased in the last one week because of strong winds and no rainfall. It is also due to the rise in temperature with less rainfall and snowfall during the winters,” Maan Singh, the chief conservationist of forest (fire and disaster management), told HT.

Also read | Early summer, lack of rain spark fires

Forest fires this year have affected more than 1290 hectares of forest land, compared to 172 hectares in 2020. According to a reply sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Uttarakhand government said that more than 44,554 hectares of the forest area has been damaged in forest fires Since the formation of the state in 2000.

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