Uttarakhand burns, IAF steps in

13 Mi-17 helicopter sorties try to extinguish the raging forest fires; state requests Army help
 A view of the forest fire in Uttarakhand.
A view of the forest fire in Uttarakhand.

DEHRADUN : With forest fires engulfing the Nanda range in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the Centre deployed a Air Force helicopter on Saturday to control the blaze. Parallelly, the state government requested the assistance of the Army.

The IAF’s Mi-17 helicopter did 13 sorties, drawing water from the Naini and Bhimtal lakes in a Bambi bucket and emptying it over the flames in the Pines, Bhumiadhar, Jyolikot, Narayan Nagar, Bhawali, Ramgarh and Mukteshwar areas. Fire-fighting operations are expected to continue on Sunday as well.

Nainital Sub-Divisional Magistrate Pramod Kumar said, “The wildfire is spreading uncontrollably from the pine forests to the Lariyakanta forests. Efforts are on with the assistance of an IAF helicopter to extinguish it.”

An ITI building was partially burnt in the massive fire in the pine forest near Nainital. The fire also reached dangerously close to the High Court Colony in Nainital but hasn’t caused any damage so far. The forest of Ladiyakanta in Nainital was also in flames. The fire brigade barely managed to control it.

Dense smoke enveloped the road from Nainital to Bhawali, disrupting movement of vehicles for hours.

Forest department sources said wildfires are spreading due to limited rainfall.

An IAF helicopter fills water from the Bhimtal lake in Nainital district to douse the fire | Express
An IAF helicopter fills water from the Bhimtal lake in Nainital district to douse the fire | Express

Nishant Verma, nodal officer of Uttarakhand’s forest department for forest fires, said, “As of April 25, the forest department has recorded 146 cases of man-made fires. Of these, 17 individuals have been identified. As for 129 other cases, the perpetrators are unknown.”

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said all efforts are being made to control the fires. He did an aerial survey of the affected region and reviewed efforts to douse the fires with officials of the Kumaon division at the Forest Training Academy in Haldwani.

544 cases of forest fires in five months

Uttarakhand witnessed 544 incidents of forest fire from November 1, 2023 to April 25,this year, of which more than 656.55 hectares of forest land was destroyed

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The New Indian Express