BANDIPUR: The fire that swept Bandipur National Park and Tiger Reserve has burnt 12,000 acres of forest over the last five days. On Monday, the Indian Air Force pressed two Mi-17 helicopters into service for operations and surveillance. According to the Ministry of Defence, the choppers were launched from the Sulur Air Force Station. “One helicopter proceeded towards Karadikal Betta hill ranges while the other proceeded to the general area of Chammana Halla top,” a statement said, adding that the helicopters have further been tasked to proceed towards Bolagudda and Kanive temple area.
Ten sorties were conducted by the choppers, which drew water from Nugu reservoir and sprayed about 30,000 litres over the affected area. The helicopters will commence operations on Tuesday.
While the fire in Bandipur and Maddur range has been contained, flames continue to rage atop Gopalaswamy hills and were spotted in Chammana Halla in Moolehole range. The drop in wind speed helped forest personnel contain the fire in many parts.
Over 1,000 volunteers, forest personnel and tribals are working to douse it at all three points.Forest Minister Satsih Jarkiholi apprised Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on the need to adopt modern methods to tackle forest fires. Sunil, a volunteer, said four monkeys were found dead. “I was scared there was thick smoke and fire at the entrance,” he said.
Several volunteers and forest personnel have now moved to Ganjekere on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. Counter-fire lines have been created and people are being moved towards Moolehole range. The department is supplying food packets, water and other essentials to those working on the field. Former NCC cadets too pitched in with two truck-loads of supplies. The department requested the public to donate drinking water cans, non-spicy packed foods, etc.
Erstwhile royal family member Yaduveer Krishnadutta Chamarajpet Wadiyar has expressed shock over the fire. He has appealed to the public to join hands to put out the fire, donate food and other materials to help the forest department.
While hotels and resorts are closed till March 3, the national highways connecting Mysuru-Ooty, Gundlupet-Kozhikode were opened to public vehicles on Monday. The authorities are confident that the situation will be normal by Tuesday if there is no strong wind.