Uttarakhand forest fire: Director of Delhi's Fire Dept to visit hill state today, govt to press MI-17 choppers; at least 6 dead

A total of 1890.79 hectares of green cover have been destroyed this fire season which had an early start on February 2 due to a dry winter.

Updated: May 01, 2016, 07:41 AM IST
Uttarakhand forest fire: Director of Delhi's Fire Dept to visit hill state today, govt to press MI-17 choppers; at least 6 dead

Dehradun: The Director of Delhi's Fire Department is scheduled to visit Uttarakhand on Sunday to extend his support to douse down the fire which has destroyed around 1,900 hectares of forests in the hill state, ANI reported.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to press two MI-17 helicopters into service as NDRF, SDRF and Army personnel struggled to douse the flames which have claimed six lives till now.

A total of 1890.79 hectares of green cover have been destroyed this fire season which had an early start on February 2 due to a dry winter.

Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital are the worst-affected districts.

While three NDRF teams and one SDRF company are busy dousing the flames in different parts of the state, two IAF choppers have been sent to Nainital and Pauri districts, among the worst hit, to spray water over the burning jungles, Raj Bhawan officials here said.

Enough funds have been made available to all affected districts besides required personnel and equipment to deal with any situation, they had said.

"One MI-17 chopper has been stationed at Bhimtal near Nainital right which is being loaded with water collected from the waterbodies in the area and begin spraying water over affected areas from tomorrow," Chief Secretary Shatrughna had Singh said.

Another IAF chopper sent to Pauri will operate in similar fashion, a Raj Bhawan official had said.

According to officials, with forest fires still raging three NDRF teams have been deployed in Almora, Gauchar and Pauri and one team of SDRF in Nainital to extinguish the flames.

Rudraprayag forest division is also taking help from the Army for fire fighting operations especially along the highway.

The casualties due to forest fires, which have spread to sparsely populated remote hill areas, have risen to six with another life claimed in Nainital district on Friday evening. The deceased include three women and a child.

Worried over forest fires which are still raging in different parts of the state, Governor KK Paul reviewed the rescue efforts underway via videoconferencing with officials in the field and asked them to speed up their efforts.

 

NDRF companies assisted by expert teams and locals are conducting fire extinguishing and rescue operations in affected areas of Garhwal and Kumaon regions.

IG Sanjay Gunjyal is coordinating with the NDRF, the district magistrates concerned and Principal Conservator of Forest to supervise the rescue operations.

Locals are being encouraged to report a fire incident tothe district magistrate concerned as soon as they sight it so that it can be controlled in time.

Forest fires are natural during summer but this time they have occurred on a bigger scale as the fire season which normally begins by February 15 and ends by June 15, began on February 2.

Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire extinguishing efforts.

Since the elected government of Uttarakhand has been dismissed by the Centre, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the state Governor KK Paul assuring him Centre’s assistance to control forest fires and help containing the damage.

Pre-fire alerts listing possible fire points over the next seven days in forest areas is being made available on forest department's website www.Forest.Uk.Govt, an official release here said.

Meanwhile, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is rushing Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) refullers to replenish IAF choppers deployed to douse the massive fire in Uttarakhand.

"Spoke to Governor Uttarakhand; IOC rushing ATF refuellers to reach Haldwani & Srinagar by morning for firefighting by airforce helicopters," he tweeted.