Rudraprayag residents fear annual forest fire

  Rudraprayag residents fear annual forest fire

6 May 2008

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Uttarakhand, India — Every summer, the forests of Uttarakhand face the danger of forest fires.

This year the blaze, which broke out early in the season, has already engulfed a large number of pine, cedar, fir and oak trees, spread over many acres of forest land skirting Rudraprayag in the Garhwal region of the state.

“This fire has been here since the past one and a half month, affecting the entire forests around Rudraprayag. Due to this fire, animals have died and a shed of a poor man was completely burnt. After harvesting of the wheat crop, people burn the straw which must have caused the fire. The concerned department is doing nothing to douse the spreading fire,” complained Laxman Rawat, a resident.

“The fire is due to the irresponsibility of the Forest Department. All the animals and other species of forest are on the verge of extinction. The Forest Department is using the same old technique to stop the fire though they have a good budget available with them,” added Mahavir Rathore, another resident.

People in Rudraprayag say that the forest fires are now an annual phenomenon during the hot summer season.

Forest officials say that the fire is a result of the dry spell and controlling it in the hilly terrain is not an easy task.

A similar forest fire in 2007 claimed at least three lives and injured many.

Besides destroying extensive forest area, the forest fires damage soil, grass cover, medicinal plants and wildlife and cause rise in temperature, pollution and depletion of water table.

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