Uttarakhand fire under control, says Rajnath

RSTV Bureau
NDRF teams during rescue operations in Uttarakhand

NDRF teams during rescue operations in Uttarakhand

TMC Saugata Roy claimed that the fire was spreading to Himachal Pradesh and parts of the Jammu region, while 3000 hectares in the Corbett National Park has been destroyed.

Sharing his concern, Ramesh Pokhriyal (BJP) said the blaze has affected the habitat of the tiger and destroyed a large number of medicinal herbs and plants. He said the fire has been exacerbated by the dry weather.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, however, said the government has been able to bring the fires under control.

“The situation is now totally under control after three NDRF teams were pressed into service along with the Airforce with MI-17 helicopters”, said Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

On the other hand, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that police arrested four people in connection to the fire  have been arrested.

” Four people will be investigated and strict action will be taken, Not a single inch of forest land will be allowed to be encroached or diverted by anybody,” said  Javadekar.

Latest satellite imageries of Uttarakhand have reported that the forest fire has gone out in over 70 per cent of the affected areas, even as the NDRF has deployed over 130 personnel to tackle the massive blaze.

“We have been informed that fresh images from satellite have shown that the effective area under fire in Uttarakhand has come down to 110-115 locations from the earlier about 427,” said NDRF Director General O P Singh. NDRF is hopeful bring down 50-60 percent fire further in the next few days by the combined forces fighting to douse the jungle fire.

The Director General also said the NDRF men are also working to save animals who could have been trapped in the blazing fire.

A squad of over 135 personnel of this special force are deployed in Uttarakhand as part of multiple firefighting teams to combat the raging fire in the jungles of Uttarakhand that have destroyed about 2,269 hectares of jungles in several districts and claimed at least seven lives till now.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have spread out in 13 affected areas of three districts of Pauri Garhwal, Almora and Chamoli with fire fighting equipment to tackle the massive blaze.

“Our teams are working in 13 sectors in coordination with the officials and personnel of the state fire and forest department. The teams have been instructed to adopt the conventional method of cutting the fire line and containing the fire. We are using fire beaters and green bushes to cut the fire from spreading. About 135 personnel as part of multiple teams are working in Uttarakhand at present,” Singh said.

Villagers helping NDRF to douse the forest fire. Photo-PTI

Villagers helping NDRF to douse the forest fire. Photo-PTI

He said in Chamoli the NDRF is working in Pakhi and Gopeshwar areas, while in Almora the teams are working in areas like Binsar, Someshwar, Bikisen, Siplakhet and Dhauladevi.

Each team is covering an area of 8-10 sq km, he said, adding, additional NDRF teams have been kept on standby at its camp in Ghaziabad.

The force also saved a house from getting engulfed in the fire in the hilly jungle area of Mehlchori in Pauri district in which a family of four members lived.

Singh said he is in constant touch with his team leaders working in the state.

Governor K K Paul reviewed the rescue efforts underway via videoconferencing with officials in the field and asked them to speed up their efforts.The Governor has doubled the number of personnel deployed to control the fires from 3000 to 6000 and asked all agencies including SDRF, district administration and the rural population to contribute their bits in the exercise saying the forest department alone cannot accomplish the onerous task.

Forest fires are a natural phenomena in summer but this time they have occurred on a bigger scale as the fire season which normally begins by February 15 and ends by June 15 began on February 2 itself.

Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the Governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire-extinguishing efforts.

Acording to Conservator of Forest (Research), forest fire incidents in the state began in the early February killing six people so far including three women and a child and blighting 1890.79 hectares of green cover

Rudraprayag forest division is taking the army’s help for fire-fighting operations especially along the highways where as in Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Almora and Nainital  districts forest officials are helping the NDRF teams to douse the fire.