Forest fires rage in Uttarakhand

    Forest fires rage in Uttarakhand

5 May 2008

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Uttarakhand, India — Forest fires have hit the famous Jim Corbett and Rajaji national parks and several other areas of Uttarakhand where eight persons have been arrested on charges of igniting some of them.

With fresh squalls hitting Uttarakhand since last night, the forest department has warned that the fires would rage further.

The forest fires are striking terror in several areas of the Corbett and Rajaji national parks, known for their tiger and elephant population, the forest department here said, adding that several other parts of the state have also been affected.

Though the forest department is claiming that it has controlled the fires in Corbett Park, reports said they were still raging.

However, no loss of life or wildlife has been reported in the fire, said A R Sinha, Chief Conservator and the nodal officer for the fire fighting operations.

Altogether, nearly 1,426 hectares of forests have been affected by the fires which have now become an annual feature.

Of the total 796 fire incidents reported so far, 554 were from the reserved forest land, Sinha said.

He said fire incidents were reported on 75 hectares of forests in Corbett Park while nearly 100 hectares of forest fell prey in Rajaji Park. the forest fire is also raging close to Rudraprayag town in Garhwal region, official sources said.

Forest authorities have blamed local people for igniting the fires and said eight persons have been arrested so far. Besides this, three children from Nainital have also been picked up, said Sinha.

When contacted, Forest Minister Bansi Dhar Bhagat said, “We are closely monitoring the situation.”

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