New Delhi: The Government has taken the forest fire in Uttarakhand seriously. Making a statement here today, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, said that Rs. 5 crore has been allotted for firefighting efforts and 6000 labourers have been deployed for firefighting efforts. The Centre has also started from today, the trial-run of generating pre-fire alerts.
The following is the text of the statement by on the forest fire in Uttarakhand:
The Central Government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have taken the forest fire of Uttarakhand very seriously and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is keeping a close watch on the situation.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar said this in a statement focusing on the devastating Uttarakhand fire. He said that Rs. 5 crore has been allotted for firefighting efforts and 6000 workers have been deployed for firefighting efforts. The Centre has also started from today, the trial-run of generating pre-fire alerts.
Home Ministry, NDRF and Air Force are guiding the fire-fighting efforts and Air Force choppers have been deployed especially to douse the forest fire. In the last month, fire had broken out at more than 1200 places and more than 1900 hectares of forest has been affected by fire.
In 2012, fire had broken out in more than 1300 places and more than 2000 hectares area was affected. These kind of forest fires break out during the summer season. Top forest officers, including Director General of Forest are on-the-spot since yesterday. They have been holding meetings and guiding local workforce.
Today, 6000 labourers were deployed for firefighting. On Saturday, the Centre granted Rs. 50 million for firefighting efforts.
Satellites are being used to give fire alerts since last year. Today, the Governemnt also started the trial-run of generating pre-fire alerts in the form of SMS to concernd departments. This is a new technology developed by forest institutes. An SMS will be immediately sent to the concerned departments.
Local television channels are also running 30-second spots telling people how to take care of such fires and how they can also contribute to the firefighting efforts.
Javadekar has concluded his statement by stating: “We will study the reasons for such fires and come out with an action plan on how to control them in future all over the country.”
A page on facebook to inform the public about the Uttarakhand fire quotes eyewitness accounts that give a clear narrative about the intensity of the disastrous inferno that has already devastated a huge forest area.
Newsroom24 is reproducing a post from facebook:
The forests of Uttarakhand have been burning for over a week now, with no media coverage what so ever.
The fires are engulfing thousands of hectares of forest, destroying wild life and killing trees in 100s of thousands, the toll is estimated to be in 10s of crores, and higher.
We want the media to bring this terrible illicit project that has, according to locals, been carefully orchestrated by timber and land mafia.
“Villagers are paid to set fire to forests and once it goes out the unburned parts are strangely reset till it is all burnt”
“We caught three young minors setting fires to a birding area in Sattal, and we asked them why . They said their father had told them to set fire to the forest.
We put out the fire with water from the lake, and the next day it was again set ablaze.
Today we saw the dead trees are being marked and cut for sale.”
Rahul Sharma- bird expert
Another post on the social networking site says: “the trees that die as a result of the fire are cut for timber and sold for millions of rupees by the timber dealers and mafia.
Forest Panchayats are often in league with these dealers and fires are often lit, every summer. But this year, the entire Uttarakhand is ablaze!!!
The hills are the only natural Oxygen lung for cities like Delhi NCR, and their destruction will dry up the rivers and have a terrible effect on the fate of India. When trees die, ground water evaporates.
A barren, burnt land is what is left of many mountains where last week, there stood a beautiful forest.
News from Nainital, Bhimtal, Sattal, Almora coming in, eye witnesses sending pictures to us and all of them are saying the same thing!! The fires aren’t being contained !!!
On April 29, experts and and concerned raised the following demands:
- Stop the fires, immediately deploy army to fight the fires and contain them from spreading.
- Start a fast court and arrest all people engaged in setting fires.
- Ban burning of private land adjoining forests
- Stop the selling of any forest timber, by forest department and local Van Panchayats
- Set up wild life rehabilitation teams to address the injured wildlife.