Wildfires: Uttarakhand to review economic loss methodology, activists raise questions

Express News Service
DEHRADUN:  The Uttarakhand High Court took suo moto cognizance of raging forest fires in the state and directed the forest department chief to be present today for explaining the situation.

Dushyant Mainali, a practising advocate in the HC, said he informed the court about the situation along with laxaties of authorities and the government. 

Wildfires have engulfed total 1,793.48hectares of forest area this year | express“The court took the matter seriously and directed the principal chief conservator of forests to be present before the court on Wednesday.”

Mainali had mentioned the matter before the division bench comprising Chief Justice R S Chauhan and Justice Alok Verma on Monday.

The lawyer also submitted media reports and documents which the bench took on record.

He informed the bench that the government and the officials treat the matter as seasonal phenomenon rather than working around the year to prevent the disaster. 

“The court remarked that it was the state’s detachment from community and attachment to technique which is bound to  result in failure when it comes to dealing with wildfires,” said Mainali. 

Wildfires have engulfed total 1,793.48 hectares forest area in 1,288 incidents this year in Uttarakhand. Four people have been killed while two injured, so far.

Meanwhile, IAF helicopters doused forest fires at three places in Uttarakhand on Tuesday, even as more broke out at 75 new spots, destroying 105.85 hectares of green cover in the state, officials said.

The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MI-17 helicopters moved to the Kirti Nagar forest division of Tehri district to control the fires by spraying water collected from Shri Kot dam in buckets with a capacity of 5,000 litres, they said.

Forest fires were doused in Bariargadh and Sarkyana in Kirti Nagar range and Khirsu in Pauri district on Tuesday, Chief Conservator of Forest Garhwal S K Patnaik, under whose supervision the exercise was carried out, said.

The firefighting operation lasted three-and-a-half hours, he said.

However, in the Kumaon region, IAF helicopters could not be utilised as bad weather prevented them from taking off, the officials said.

Seventy-five new forest fires were reported from across the state in which 105.85 hectares of green cover was gutted, they said.

As many as 414 forest fires have been reported from Uttarakhand in April so far and 645.3 hectares of forests destroyed, they said.

Nainital, Almora, Tehri and Pauri districts are the worst hit by forest fires.

 (With PTI Inputs)