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Aided by rain, forest fires doused in Uttarakhand

May 05, 2016 22:22 IST


Aided by widespread rainfall since Tuesday, forest fires which ravaged thousands of hectares of green cover in Uttarakhand were doused completely on Thursday with no reports of fresh blaze from anywhere in the state.

Meanwhile, the administration claimed it was fully prepared to deal with fresh fires in case they break out anywhere in the state due to a change in the weather.

"Forest fires across the state have been completely extinguished and no fresh incident was reported from anywhere. Many places have been lashed by rain over the past couple  of days including Dehradun, Nainital, Tehri and Almora, supplementing efforts being put in by different agencies to control the fires," Executive Director Disaster Mitigation Centre, Piyush Rautela said.

Over 11,000 personnel, including that of National Disaster Relief Force, State Disaster Response Force, Provincial Armed Constabulary and the forest department, are still on the ground to keep a watch on the situation, he added.

Almost all the places in Uttarakhand have received light to moderate rains since Tuesday evening. Munsyari received 25 MM of rain today followed by Dehradun with 13 MM, besides Pantnagar and Mukteshwar each receiving 9 MM of rains, MeT department director Vikram Singh told PTI.

The MeT department has forecast light rains on Friday at many places above 3,500 metres, he said, adding showers will bring moisture in the forests and lead to a drop in temperature which will prevent fresh incidents of fires.

A total of 1,681 forest fires incidents in Uttarakhand, which had an early start on February 2, has claimed nine lives and ravaged 3,739 hectares of forest land.

Additional Chief Secretary S Ramaswamy said the rains have been of great help but the possibility of fresh fires breaking out is still there and the administration is fully prepared.

"Widow of the fire watcher who died in Pauri on Tuesday is being given a compensation of Rs 2 lakh by the forest department besides, Rs 4 lakh from the SDRF and another Rs 2 lakh from the Governor's discretionary fund," he said.

The DFO concerned has also been asked to appoint her as a fire watcher, Ramaswamy said. A total of 11,773 personnel from different departments including the NDRF, SDRF, police and forest guards are engaged in firefighting operations in the state.

Meanwhile, forest department has asked people to help in preventing forest fires and make their own contribution to environment conservation.

In an appeal, the department said it was making efforts to control forest fires in the state but requests the "enlightened" people of the state to make their own contribution to saving the environment by preventing forest fires by taking necessary precaution.

The department made six suggestions to people asking them not to cook in the open, remove bushes, dry leaves, garbage and inflammable material dumped near their homes to prevent fire. It also asked people not to let women, children and the elderly members of the family to go to areas where a forest fire has occurred.

Image: NDRF personnel work around the clock to put out the flames in the Uttarakhand forests. Photograph: PTI

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