Warmer April triggers uptick in forest fires in Uttarakhand this year

Uttarakhand has witnessed 30% uptick in forest fires this April compared to the corresponding month last year.

Published: 02nd May 2022 07:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd May 2022 07:38 AM   |  A+A-

Blast, Fire

For representational purposes

Express News Service

DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand has witnessed 30% uptick in forest fires this April compared to the corresponding month last year. Experts attributed the spike to the unprecedented heat wave this year, coupled with a prolonged dry spell. 

A G Ansari, a conservationist based in Ramnagar district which is home to the Corbett Tiger Reserve, said: “March witnessed 91% less rainfall and April 96%. Dry weather and high temperatures have been conducive to the rising fire incidents and their magnitude.”

In April alone 1,137 incidents have been recorded in the state, charring 1,352 hectares of forests. As many as 1,713 forest fires have been registered across the state this season so far.  Fire season in the hill state starts on February 15 and goes on till the onset of monsoon. 

Meanwhile, the forest department’s move to axe 5,000 forest guards amid the ongoing fire season has raised fears that it will adversely affect fire fighting operations.  Officials said the decision was made due to budget constraints. Department officials said volunteers had been recruited at local level to control the damage. More than 300 vehicles have been pressed into service for preventing/controlling the fires. 

Nishant Verma, nodal officer for forest fires, said: “Ground teams have been deployed along with drones to check fires.” The state has 40 control rooms and one Information Technology and Geoinformation Cell in Dehradun to keep check on the forest fires. There are 1,437 crew stations and 174 watch towers across the state.  

In the last 12 years 30,245 hectares of forests in the state have been engulfed by fires. In December 2016, the high court had ordered suspension of the state forest chief if the fires continued for more than 72 hours. The Supreme Court, however, stayed the suspension.


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