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SC pitches for preventive steps, says cloud seeding

SC says authorities will have to take preventive measures to tackle the problem.

fireNEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said cloud seeding or “depending on rain god” is not the answer to the raging forest fires in Uttarakhand and that authorities will have to take preventive measures to tackle the problem.

The Uttarakhand government apprised the apex court about the steps taken to control the forest fires and said 0.1 per cent of the wildlife cover in the state was on fire due to such incidents.

The state government told a bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta that since November last year, there were 398 forest fires in Uttarakhand and five people were killed in such incidents.

Deputy Advocate General of Uttarakhand Jatinder Kumar Sethi told the court that all the fires were man-made.

A total of 350 criminal cases have been lodged in connection with the forest fires, he said, adding that 62 people have been named in those.

“People say that 40 per cent of Uttarakhand is on fire, whereas 0.1 per cent of the wildlife cover was on fire. And all this was man-made. From November till today, we have 398 fires, all man-made,” the counsel said.

The court was hearing an application that has raised the issue of raging forest fires in Uttarakhand.

During the hearing, the bench told the state’s counsel, “Cloud seeding or depending on the rain god is not the answer. He (applicant) is right in saying that you have to take preventive measures.”

The state government placed before the bench an interim status report containing details of the various steps taken by authorities to deal with forest fires.

Sethi said helicopters of the Indian Air Force were also pressed into service to extinguish the fires.

“What is the number of human lives lost?” the bench asked. The counsel said five people were killed due to the forest fires. The bench sought to know how many animals were killed in such incidents.

The counsel said he will get the information and apprise the court.

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