The nation-wide lockdown enforced to control the spread of COVID-19 and intermittent rainfall in Uttarakhand is exerting a protective impact on the forests in the state. The lockdown and the rain have drastically reduced the incidents of forest fire this year. Most forest fires are caused by human actions so with the lockdown preventing movement of general public in the jungles, the forest fires this year have been negligible so far. Whereas, generally forest fires afflict Uttarakhand considerably during April, this year the number of forest fires has been considerably less. Officials believe that the intermittent rains being experienced during the past month have also contributed to this.
It is pertinent to mention here that the forest fire season begins on February 15 and lasts till the advent of the monsoon season. Every year, the forest department undertakes precautionary measures to prevent forest fires. To ensure such preparations this year too, the state government exempted the forest personnel from lockdown duty and directed them to discharge their original duties. The precautionary measures fire lines which measure about 13,917 kilometres in length in Uttarakhand. Every year before the start of the forest fire season these fire lines are cleaned. Bushes growing on these lines are cleared and leaf litter is burnt in a controlled manner. Despite this and other measures, the state generally experiences considerable forest fires during April. This used to result in about 100 to 200 hectares of forests being affected by forest fires in the past years. However, according to data received from the forest department, this year till April 30 only about 11.03 hectare was affected by forest fire. This is drastically less than the 99.29 hectare area affected by forest fires by April 30 in 2019. Apart from the rains being experienced intermittently for about a month now, the restriction of human activities during the lockdown has also contributed to decrease in forest fires.
According to official data, about 19,945 hectare forest area was affected by forest fires from 2010 to 2019. This amounts to about 1994 hectare forest area being affected by forest fires each year.
The forest department nodal officer for forest fires, VK Gangte said that apart from the lockdown, the intermittent rains experienced this year also contributed to the drop in forest fire incidents. The rains being experienced every few days are also preventing the forest fires from spreading. Apart from this, the forest department personnel are also alert while discharging their duties in the forest areas, he added.
Saturday, 02 May 2020 | PNS | Dehradun
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