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Forest fires partially put out, choppers withdrawn

The forest fire situation in the state is largely under control, and there is no need to panic says Nishant Verma, additional principal chief conservator of forests.

fireDEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand forest department in coordination with various departments on Sunday managed to partially control the intense fire engulfing the forests of the Nanda range near Nainital to a significant extent. The forest department has resorted to employing traditional fire-fighting techniques to combat the blaze, officials said.

Considering the limited efficacy of the ‘Bambi bucket’ water dispersal technique employed by the Air Force’s MI-17 chopper, the administration opted to resort to manual fire control measures. Additionally, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel have been deployed by the state government to combat the wildfires at multiple locations.

“A contingent of 41 NDRF personnel was swiftly dispatched to Nainital on Sunday to provide support to the forest officials in containing the wildfires in the region,” sub-divisional magistrate Pramod Kumar told this newspaper.

Nishant Verma, additional principal chief conservator of forests and state nodal officer for forest fire, said, “The forest fire situation in the state is largely under control, and there is no need to panic.”

Miscreants involved in forest fire incidents are being dealt with strictly. So far, 29 people have been booked in 23 cases, officials said.

“On Sunday, the primary objective was to control the fire in the Mahesh Khan beat located in Bhouwali area,” divisional forest officer Chandrashekar Joshi told this newspaper. Significant efforts were directed towards clearing the highly flammable ‘pirul’ ( pine needles) that are a key contributor to rapid spread of the fire. The strategy employed involves isolating the fire-affected area to effectively contain and control the flames, he said.

Uttrakhand Forest Minister Subodh Uniyal said, “The state government will provide rewards ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh to forest fire management committees for successfully extinguishing wildfires. Additionally, helicopters will be utilised in special circumstances to aid in firefighting.”

Minister Uniyal emphasised the crucial role of public participation in combating forest fires, highlighting the formation of 541 forest fire management committees led by village heads. These committees have been incentivised with Rs 30,000 each for the season to enhance their effectiveness in fire prevention and control.

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