Centre provides two choppers, NDRF team to combat Uttarakhand wildfires

Express News Service
DEHRADUN: The central government on Sunday agreed to provide two choppers and forces from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to combat forest fires in Uttarakhand after four people and 7 animals were reported dead. The fires also left 22 animals two people wounded. 

The development came after Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat spoke to union home minister Amit Shah. 

“I spoke to honourable union home minister Amit Shah apprising him about the serious situation of forest fires in the state. He promised help and now two choppers have been deployed by the Centre along with other resources including staff from National Disaster Response Force,” said the CM. 

One chopper will be deployed in Gochar which will use a water source from Srinagar while another one will be deployed in Haldwani of the Kumaon division and utilize Bhimtal lake as a water source. 

The Mi 17 used ‘Bambi Bucket’ in 2016 wildfires which carries 5000 liters of water. 

In this fire season, the state has lost 1359.83 hectares of forest area in 1028  forest fires incidents till date amounting to Rs 39.46 lakh of monetary loss. Fire season starts in Uttarakhand from February 15 and ends on June 15 with arrival of monsoons in the state.

The state government has also cancelled all leaves of officials and personnel of the state forest department. An emergency meeting through video conferencing was called by the CM which included the Chief Secretary of the state, district magistrate of all 13 districts and key officials from the state forest department. 

The officials were asked by the CM to push in every available resource to combat the forest fires and keep eye on the situation 24×7. 

A total of 12000 personnel and officials from the state forest department have been deployed to tackle the fires with the help of 1300 fire crew stations established across the state. 

Since Uttarakhand came into existence in the year 2000, forest fires have registered over 500% increase in terms of area engulfed, revealed the data from state forest department.  In these 21 years, the total forest area engulfed by forest fires stands around 47000 hectares while the total economic loss was Rs over Rs 2 crore.