115% rise in forest fires this month
Around 42,799 forest fires have been detected between March 1 and March 12, according to the satellite-based forest fire monitoring by Forest Survey of India (FSI).
New Delhi: India has seen a 115% increase in forest fires in the first 12 days of March on the back of almost no rains in February, and hotter-than-normal temperatures.
Around 42,799 forest fires have been detected between March 1 and March 12 according to the satellite-based forest fire monitoring by Forest Survey of India (FSI); the number is up from 19, 929 last year.
The country recorded 7.2 mm in February, the sixth lowest for the month since 1901. Central India recorded a 99% rain deficiency in the month; northwest India 76%; the southern peninsula 54%; and east and northeast India , 35%, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD). The average maximum temperature in February was the highest in recorded history at 29.66 degrees C .
There has been little respite in March.
There has been a 77% deficiency in rainfall over the country in the first 13 days of March with 81% deficiency over east and northeast India; 58% over central India; 76% over northwest India; and 95% over the southern peninsula.
On Monday, 772 large forest fires were reported by FSI of which 202 were in Odisha; 101 in Mizoram; 43 in Assam; 21 over Maharashtra; 61 over Chhattisgarh; and 48 over Andhra Pradesh .
“Temperatures have been way too high this Spring . Moreover, it hasn’t rained properly in February or March. Heat and dry soil make conditions conducive for the spread of forest fires. The trigger for fires may be different in different states,” said a senior FSI official who asked not to be named.
“There have been reports of forest fires from the western states mainly because of extreme heat in March. Goa, Konkan, parts of Maharashtra are seeing heat wave-like conditions. This is mainly due to the anticyclonic wind pattern which is blocking the sea breeze; this can have a severe impact on maximum temperatures over the region. Rainfall has not been adequate. We are expecting a spell of rain over northwest India due to an approaching western disturbance around March 17 and 18 which can bring some respite to Delhi. Over the west coast, not much relief is expected,” explained Mahesh Palawat, vice president, climate and meteorology at Skymet Weather.
Maximum temperatures were in the range of 38-39 degrees C at isolated place over Gujarat, Konkan and Goa and in the range of 35-37 degrees C at many places over West Rajasthan, Rayalaseema, Coastal Karnataka; Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal, Telangana, Kerala, Jharkhand and Vidarbha, according to a statement by IMD on Monday. They were in the range of 32-35 degrees C at most places over East Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and South Interior Karnataka; at many places over Delhi, West Uttar Pradesh and East Rajasthan; at a few places over Sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Northeast India, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and North Interior Karnataka.
Maximum temperatures were above normal by 6-8 degrees C at many places over Jammu division and above normal by 4-6 degrees C at isolated places over Saurashtra, Konkan, Haryana & Delhi and north Rajasthan and above normal by 2-4 degrees C at many places over Punjab, Haryana and West Uttar Pradesh.
Heat wave conditions prevailed at isolated pockets over Konkan on Sunday, IMD said.