DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand has lost over 4,000 hectares of forest ecosystem to 765 wildfires in the past six months alone. The highest incidence was recorded in reserved forests, where in 642.11 ha were lost to 473 wildfires. While areas under civil soyam and van panchayat witnessed lesser incidence, the 291 incidents gutted a whopping 3,546 ha.
The state government on Monday last decided to induct 10,000 fire fighters, including 5,000 women under a two-prong strategy of tackling the outbreak of fire and empowering women in one go. Enumerating the losses sustained in the six months gives some startling figures.
The hill state lost over 290 hectares of forest area, including 5,500-odd trees, in 235 fire incidents, leading to a monetary loss of Rs 9.71 lakh between October and December 2020. According to empirical data, the season of wildfires begins around February 15 in the state, and ends by June 15, which coincides with the arrival of the monsoon season.
While the spark for the wildfires could be both natural and human, the forest department has been into an overdrive to amalgamate public participation through social media since 2019. People are encouraged to share photos, videos and location of the blazes on the official pages such that swift action could be taken. The state machinery is already banking on toll free numbers for expedited alerts, all the while using drones and ground staff.