Uttarakhand forest fire under control, no death so far: Rajnath Singh
Home Minister Rajnath Singh denied reports of deaths due to forest fires in Uttarakhand.
New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on Monday that the situation arising out of forest fires in Uttarakhand is under control.
Assuring that there is no need to get panicky, Singh said: "The state administration is on the job. I reviewed the situation last night and authorities have told me that things are normal and under control."
The issue was raised during Zero Hour by Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress), Jagdambika Pal (BJP) and several other members.
Rajnath said that shortly after the matter came to his knowledge, a team of his ministry and fire department rushed to the site.
He said National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and choppers have been deployed and the fire has been brought under control.
"Three teams of NDRF and three IAF MI-17 helicopters were also engaged to control the situation," he said.
He denied reports of deaths due to the fire, saying: "As far as reported deaths are concerned, local administration has not yet confirmed," he said.
The fires began 89 days ago and have so far destroyed nearly 3,000 acres of forest cover.
Uttarakhand has been under President's Rule since March 27 after the dismissal of the Harish Rawat ministry.
Earlier, Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy gave notice of an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha demanding a discussion on the current political situation in Uttarakhand, which was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Later during Zero Hour, Roy said there was no popular government in Uttarakhand now and blamed both the BJP and the Congress for this situation.
Media reports claimed that the forest fires in Uttarakhand caused loss of lives and injured 15 people.
Reports also said hundreds of hectares of forests have been destroyed with Pauri, Nainital, Rudraprayag, Tehri and Almora districts bearing the brunt.
Several sorties by MI-17 choppers trying to douse the forest fires in Uttarakhand were aborted at many places on Sunday owing to "poor visibility and thick smoke".
The state government was pinning its hopes on the rain gods.
For now, other than trying "every method at hand, we can just pray that rains lash the state as soon as possible", said a senior government official.
(With IANS inputs)