SMS route to tackle forest fires

SMS route to tackle forest fires

13 June 2011

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India — With the launch of alert messaging system, the monitoring of forest fires has gone hi-tech in the state. The software automatically alerts forest officers about fire occurrence in their division via SMS. Considering the fact that Uttar Pradesh has timber worth crores in its different forest divisions, the system becomes significant.

The UP government has got the software from Madhya Pradesh, which has been using it for about a year now. The mobile phone numbers and e-mail ids of the DFOs and rangers of the division have been fed into the system. In case of any incident of fire in the forest area, a message is sent to officers of the said area. The officers will have to visit the place, find out about the nature of fire, if it is ground or crown fire, extent of damage, if any, and feed the information in the software. It was launched on May 9.

Speaking about the software package, which was launched on May 9, said Umendra Sharma, APCCF (IT), UP, said, This will make the monitoring strict and transparent. UP so far was only dependent on manual mechanisms to prevent forest fire or satellite date from Forest Survey of India. FSI updates information on its website every day about incidents of forest fires during forest season in different states. It however, does not indicate if fire has occurred inside or outside forest area.

This is where this system scores, said Sharma. The system indicates exact area and exact location of the fire on the digitized map of states forest area, which has been uploaded in it. The MODIS satellite using infra-red sensors collects the data. The system is set at a particular degree of temperature. At points where satellite records temperature higher than the one set, it reports a forest fire.

Other count, where it proves better than the FSI system, is the automatic alert. In order to make the officers get friendly with the new system, department organised a training on May 20. Some of the officers will be trained as master trainers who would be training other officers.

The state has paid Rs 5 lakh to Madhya Pradesh for the system. UP has 206.40 lakh cubic metre timber in its forest and hence the system to keep an active watch on forest fires is a must. The data collected by the system will help in speedy action in case of a forest fire.    

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