ANGUL: With the temperature soaring as the summerprogresses, the forests and wild animals inhabiting it are bearing the brunt of heat. Prolonged dry spell due to scanty rainfall last monsoon has been cited as one of the reasons for the fires in the three forest divisions under Angul forest circle, besides manmade factors. While forest fire has been reported in nearly 18.23 hectares under Angul forest division in April, it was raging in 17.9 hectares in Satkosia Wildlife Division and 10.73 hectares in Dhenkanal Division.
Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF) Sudarshan Panda of Angul circlesaid personnel have been engaged in dousing the fire and work is continuing on a war-footing in these divisions besides those of Nayagarh and Athagarh. “Due to long dry spell and scanty rainfall, the incidents of forest fire have gone up substantially not only in Odisha, but across India. However, we are fighting the fire successfully by deploying a fire squad,” Panda said. Fortunately, all the animals are safe in Satkosia, where e l e - phant and tiger reserves exist, he added. The situation in Satkosia forest is highly volatile as the dry leaves are aiding in spreading the fire. The worrying factor is the forest fire in most cases was not natural but manmade.
People living in the villages on the fringes of the forests are deliberately setting the trees on fire to settle scores with sanctuary authorities for the anti-poaching drive being undertaken in these areas. Two people were arrested for setting the forest on fire. On interrogation, they revealed that they intend to harm the officials due to their drive against the poachers. According to official sources, there were 33 fire incidents spread over 18 hectares of forest since the beginning of current financial year. The worst affected areas are Labangi, Pampasar and Jagannathpur. Forest officials, however, claim that there is no incidence of fire in the core area of the tiger reserve, Raigoda range, this year as precautionary measures were taken.
Authorities claim that 170 watchers and anti-poaching squads in the sanctuary have been engaged in fighting the fire and some of them had to be hospitalised due to sunstroke. “All the animals, including tigers in Raigoda and in entire Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary, are safe. The fire is mostly on hilltops and near the villages and so far we have controlled all butone area,” said Divisional Forest Officer of Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary SMT Rahman.