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HC takes suo motu cognisance of wildfires, tells govt to file report

Taking suo motu cognizance of the reports about the gravity of raging fires which have affected thousands of hectares of forest land in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to submit a status report within 24 hours

dehradun Updated: May 30, 2018 22:17 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Nainital
The high court seeks details on number of forest fires reported, kind of damage caused, and what steps the state government was taking to prevent them.(HT Photo)

Taking suo motu cognizance of the reports about the gravity of raging fires which have affected thousands of hectares of forest land in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to submit a status report within 24 hours.

A division bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma directed the state to submit details pertaining to number of forest fires reported, the kind of damage caused, and what steps the government was taking to prevent them, said advocate MC Pant.

Pant said he had on may 22 and 23 mentioned forest fires and the destruction caused by them before the court in the course of the days’ proceedings citing various newspaper articles published recently. Pant also told the court that in many cases the fires had reached near schools in Almora and Pauri districts.

“Recognising the seriousness of the situation, the court decided to treat the matter as a PIL and asked the state government to reply by Thursday,” Pant said.

Chief standing counsel Paresh Tripathi, who represented the state government, told media that the court has given government time till Thursday to file its detailed response.

According to the data collected by Forest Survey of India, so far there have been 1,958 incidents of forest fire this season in the state, which have destroyed 4,202 hectares of forest land posing revenue loss of over Rs 81.36 lakh. The forest fire season in state began on February 15.

In 2016, forest fires had burnt down over 4,500 hectare of vegetation, with a major portion of damage being recorded in April (2,270 hectare) and May (2,187 hectare) in the state.

First Published: May 30, 2018 22:17 IST