High chances of spurt in forest fire this year
Wildlife expert and former IFS officer Jitashatru Mohanty said awareness among locals in fringe villages are key while dealing with the wildfire menace.
Published: 05th February 2023 07:58 AM | Last Updated: 05th February 2023 07:58 AM | A+A A-
BHUBANESWAR: With Odisha witnessing over 1,200 forest fire points within a month of this year, the Forest department is on its toes to deal with the impending future. Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) and head of forest force (HoFF) Debidutta Biswal said there could be a spurt in forest fire incidents in Odisha this season owing to the prolonged dry spell.
The PCCF said the long dry spell following last year’s monsoon could lead to more number of forest fires this season. To tackle the situation, district-level action plans on forest fire management have been prepared, while divisional forest officers (DFOs) have been asked to ensure coordinated efforts at the district and divisional levels.
He said so far they have been able to attend to 95 per cent of wildfire incidents immediately after they were detected. Forest fire management squads have been readied for the rest of the fire season, while fire fighting equipment including blowers and safety gear have also been provided to the divisions.
Besides, the PCCF said awareness drives are continuing in villages for community involvement in preventing forest fires.
As per the statistics of the Forest Survey of India (FSI), at least 1,270 forest fire incidents including certain large forest fires have been reported from different parts of the state between January 1 to February 4. The FSI stats reveal that the number of incidents reported in the state daily in the current season has also crossed the figure of 100 in recent days. Around 161 fire incidents were reported on February 2 and 106 on February 3. Similarly, 113 forest fires, including five large active forest fires, were reported on Saturday.
Meanwhile, keeping the current scenario in view, experts warned the Forest department to be doubly cautious, especially in dealing with deliberate wildfire incidents, failing which it could emerge as a long-drawn battle on the field during summer.
“Forest fires usually occur February 15 onwards, However, I see forest fires reported from Malkangiri and Nabarangpur as early as the first week of January these days. All these appear to be deliberate fires lit by people which needs to be brought under control,” said retired IFS officer and former field director of Similipal Tiger Reserve Suresh Kumar Mishra.
Wildlife expert and former IFS officer Jitashatru Mohanty said awareness among locals in fringe villages is key while dealing with the wildfire menace. Forest officials said the fire season in the state which was earlier for five months from February to June has already been extended to six months from January to June from 2022 onwards after the state recorded a total of 51,966 incidents of wildfire in 2021.
Special focus will also be on Similipal Tiger Reserve which grabbed headlines after 428 fire points were detected in the park between January 1 and March 4 in 2021.