At a time when raging forest fire in Similipal Biosphere in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district continued to cause concern among wildlife activists, large forest tracts have been found affected by fire in other parts of the State.
Of the 886 large fires detected across different forests in India on Friday, Odisha is leading the table with 233 forest fires. Tenangana and Madhya Pradesh followed Odisha with 126 and 107 incidences of forest fires.
Meanwhile,the State government has kept additional firefighters on standby to douse the fire in Similipal.Wildlife activists have been raising alarm over spread of wildfire in Similipal. “The situation in Similipal is under complete control of the administration. It has never gone out of control. Like every year, fire points have emerged this year. There is nothing unusual about it. We are attending fire points as soon as we are intimated,” said Sashi Paul, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) on Friday.
The most affected areas in Similipal were Podadiha and Thakurmunda, he said, adding that the core areas of Similipal which houses tigers remained unaffected.
The Forest and Environment department, however, expressed concerns that many fire points were not attended immediately.
“Although Forest Survey of India reported very high incidences of fire during these months, they have not been responded or attended immediately which is a matter of concern. It is seen that about 60% of the reported fire points have only been responded,” said Lingaraj Ota, Special Secretary in Forest department in a letter to all divisional forest officers.
It is imperative that all the fire points in the field are attended to on priority basis and forest fire should be extinguished immediately before it is spread to adjoining forest areas,” said Mr. Ota.
Directing DFOs to submit report on number of fire points attended to on daily basis, the Forest department special secretary emphasized that the range officers would have to ensure that the fire points should be attended within in one hour of reporting and the range officer should submit a certificate on a daily basis to DFO.
The DFOs have been asked to make all out efforts for prevention of forest fire through effective foot patrolling , surveillance and sensitization of Van Surakshya Samiti members and forest fringe dwellers.