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Uttarakhand loses Rs 86 lakh to forest fires this year

Uttarakhand has lost 4,538 hectares of vegetation to forest fires this year, incurring a loss of Rs 86 lakh in the process. The official forest fire season began on February 15 and ended on June 15.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2018 07:21 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand,forest fire,vegetation
Although the official forest fire season is over, sporadic incidents of fire are still being recorded from different parts of the state. Officials say there hasn’t been enough rainfall this year.(HT/File Photo)

Uttarakhand has lost 4,538 hectares of vegetation to forest fires this year, incurring a loss of Rs 86 lakh in the process. The official forest fire season began on February 15 and ended on June 15.

The loss in forest cover is same as the one recorded in 2016 — highest since 2010, as per the state forest department statistics. However, the revenue loss this year is almost Rs 40 lakh more than the loss incurred by the forest department in 2016. The higher revenue loss has been attributed to more resin canals being gutted this year.

Although the official forest fire season is over, the department is still recording sporadic incidents of fire from different parts of the state. Officials say there hasn’t been enough rainfall this year.

“The rainfall received so far isn’t enough to hydrate the ground due to which fire incidents are still reported,” BP Gupta, nodal officer for forest fire, said.

Wildfires burn a hole in Uttarakhand coffers
This year, the forest cover lost is same as that in 2016, but state lost more resin canals leading to greater revenue loss

In 2016, the state lost a total of 4,538.2 hectares of forest cover. This included 4,434.75 hectares of reserve forest, civil soyam and van panchayat areas, and plantation of 103.45 hectares. The forest cover loss this year too is 4,538.236 hectares, including 4,480.036 hectares of reserve area, civil soyam and van panchayat, and 58.2 hectares plantation.

However, this year 545 resin canals got damaged in fire, as against 400 canals in 2016, leading to higher revenue loss.

The canals are cuts made in pine trees to ease the resin flow. The resin is collected round the year and is mostly used in varnishes and adhesives. “Along with trees, resin constitutes a major portion of the estimated revenue loss due to forest fire. If one resin canal is burnt, we lose the supply (stock) of the whole year,” Jai Raj, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and head of forest force, said.

This year, six people were wounded in the wildfire. A total of 3,051 locals, 9,377 forest staff, 59 revenue staff, 52 policemen, six National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel, and 18 of State DRF were engaged in firefighting.

First Published: Jun 22, 2018 07:21 IST