India– The Rajaji National Park reported its first wildfire of the season which destroyed the forest on one hectare land, said park director Neena Grewal on Monday.
She said the incident was reported in Khadkhadi area, adjoining Haridwar forest division, on May 17.
The fire was controlled within half an hour. The area falls near the Mansa Devi temple which receives a heavy footfall of pilgrims. We believe that someone would have left a lighted bidi or cigarette that caused the fire, Grewal said.
Forest officials said there were many causes of forest fires. Rising temperature, which has crossed 30 degrees Celsius now, and low humidity could cause fire too. But, 90% of the fires are triggered by humans, the officials said.
According to the vigilance and legal cell statistics, the fire has caused an estimated revenue loss of Rs1000.
The first forest fire incident was reported on March 20 at Nanda Devi National Park. Another fire was reported from Champawat on April 20. Four forest fires two each in the reserve and the revenue forests have already been reported in the Pauri forest division.
With this incident, 15 hectares of forest cover has been destroyed by forest fires this season causing a revenue loss of about `12,500 to the forest department.
In 2014, 48.90 hectares of forest was destroyed by fire causing a revenue loss of Rs24,000.
The forest fire management cell statistics show that the forest fire caused the maximum damage during May this year in the form of destruction of over 12.25 hectares of forest cover. April reported burning down of 1.50 hectares of forest land.
According to forest department figures, as many as 1322 forest fires were reported in 2012 which burnt down 2822.57 hectares of forest area. Four people died the same year, 12 were injured and 22 animals too died during the fires.
The same year, four tiger cubs died in the forest fire. In 2013, the state had recorded only 245 incidents which damaged over 374 hectares of forest cover with no casualty. In 2014, 515 incidents were reported, which damaged 1000 hectares of forest cover with four people receiving injuries.
According to officials, the department has set up 34 master control rooms to monitor forest fires.Out of them, 16 are in Garhwal and 14 in Kumaon. Besides, the department has also set up 1021 crew stations. Out of them, 500 are in Garhwal and 479 in Kumaon and 42 in the wild.
These offices detect, disseminate information and alert staff for meeting emergencies when a forest fire takes place. In this regard, the forest department has taken assistance from the Geographic Information System (GIS) from Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (USAC).
The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has also been engaged in the task. It sends immediate alerts to the email accounts of the division forest officers (DFO) and associated officers. These alerts keep the territorial staff and DFOs informed about the fire incidents.