Dry spell can be devastating for forest fire: Experts
2016 witnessed a considerable damage of the forest, gutting 4,434 hectare of forest land and 104 hectare of plantation area in fire, causing a revenue loss of Rs 4.65 crore.dehradun Updated: Jan 13, 2018 20:24 IST
Dry spell and cold waves could be devastating for Uttarakhand as there’s hardly a month left for the forest fire to begin. Experts claim that the government needs a strong policy to combat this natural disaster which could have serious consequences.
2016 witnessed a considerable damage of the forest, gutting 4,434 hectare of forest land and 104 hectare of plantation area in fire, causing a revenue loss of Rs 4.65 crore. The devastation spread was so severe that the government had to engage two Indian Air Force (IAF) MI-17 choppers to douse the fire.
Last year, however, the loss was comparatively low, where only 1,245 hectare forest with an additional 7 hectare of plantation in the state was damaged. The revenue loss as per official data was R 1.83 crore.
The official season of forest fire begins from February 15 and concludes on June 15.
Experts said that 2018 would be challenging. “Despite the dry spell and cold waves, the only redeeming part is that the temperature is low. But in February, the temperature will rise leaving no moisture. This might adversely affect the forest during the forest fire,” said Sunil Chandra, deputy director Forest Survey of India (FSI).
Pine needles are a potential cause of forest fire. There has been no mapping ever to underline the areas with pine growth, moreover, the government has not formed any strategy to combat this calamity.
Radhika Jha, secretary, held a meeting with officials recently and directed to engage village panchayats and other people in collection of pine needles through which power could be generated. The government is in the process of making a policy, but it is not likely to come anytime soon.
“The government is working on a policy but we still don’t know how much time it might take. Meanwhile, we are making check dams with the help of needles and also carrying out control burning and making fire lines for the upcoming season,” BP Gupta, nodal officer forest fire, said.
Pine covers around 4,363 sq km, of the total 24,240 sq km of the forest area of the state, the 2015 Forest Survey of India report shows. Pine needles have 9.75% moisture and a burning efficiency of 27.01%, higher than that of fuel wood (15.55%).
Padma Shree awardee, popularly known as mountain man, Anil Joshi, who runs HESCO (Himalayan Environmental Studies & Conservation Organisation), said,“It’s a tragedy that officers and the government come into action only when the fire season is nearing. They should come up with a strong policy at the earliest to mitigate this yearly natural phenomenon.”