India — A team comprising experts from Gurukul Kangri University today began a survey of forest areas where fire is raging for the past few days. This study will assess the impact of forest fire on wildlife, birds and flora and fauna and compile a report.
Led by Dr Dinesh Bhatt, Dean of the Department of Wildlife and Zoology, the team surveyed intense forest terrain of Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar. Yesterday, it visited the Laldhang block of Haridwar district and later headed for Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district.
Bhatt told The Tribune that the four-member team would for the next couple of days assess the impact of forest fires on the wildlife and birds and also suggest ways to lessen the impact of fires on forest terrain.
He said the breeding period of the majority of 300 bird species found in Uttarakhand falls between March and May. The intense forest fire raging in the area was proving to be a major threat to the existence of avian species.
We will do a detailed analysis and compile a report, which may serve as a guideline for the government, the Forest Department and local people. Most of the avian species breed during autumn and the initial summer months. The devastating fire may have a serious impact on the existence of these species, said Bhatt.
However, he refused to divulge the initial findings, as the final details would be made public before the month end. He added that the wildlife was suffering the most due to the forest fires.
Fire safety drill at FRI
A fire safety drill took place at the Forest Research Institute (FRI) here on Tuesday.
Fire inspector NP Singh from the CISF informed FRI officers and staff about fire, reasons for fire incidents, how to control fire, its classification and type of extinguishers.
FRI Director Dr Savita referred to a recent case of fire that occurred in Bamboosetum of the FRI and how it was controlled. She informed the officers about the safety of houses and dos and donts in case of fire.
Tara Singh Sob, 76, of Silgadi feels very strange these days. He had never seen such view of nature ever before. Heavy haze throughout the day in the month of May is what he is finding quite surprising. “Mist was seen in winter morning and evenings. But seeing such mist-like haze during summer is strange, I have never seen this before,” he said.
This year, almost all parts of Doti district are experiencing such uncommon weather. Locals are finding it difficult to carry out their daily activities due to insufficient light even during the day. “It’s very dark all the time. We see sunlight only for a while in day,” said Khadak Bikram Shahi, a businessman from Dipayal. “Though the weather is very hot all the time, we haven’t seen the sun properly for a week now,” he added.
Locals feel that that haze has been due to the recent surge in forest fires in and around the district. Forest fires have been catching up in the region – in the mountain and adjacent Tarai districts. “Perhaps it’s due to smoke released from the forest fires in our and surrounding districts, Narendra Khadka, president of local branch of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) said. “Fire has destroyed most of the forests in the district. You can see literally every forest in the district has been engulfed by fire. It seems that the smoke released from these fires have clouded the atmosphere here,” he said.
The haze has taken toll on public health as well. Locals have been complaining of respiratory problems, headache, irritation in eyes and various skin related problems. Suraj Baldar, assistant doctor at the eye clinic of the District Hospital, informed that numbers of patients visiting the facility has been increasing. “Though we used to see surge in the number of eye patients at this time of the year, this time their number has been quite high, ” he said adding, “The quality of the air has degraded.”
Similarly, Harish Shah, public health monitor at facility pointed that there has been surge in the number of people complaining of respiratory problems. “Even when people are simply sitting or taking rest, they are sneezing time and again. Many find it difficult to breathe,” he said. “Such problem is seen even more in motorcyclists.”
Meanwhile, Min Kumar Aryal, meteorologist in the district said that such atmosphere has been prevalent in most part of the country. “This is not an issue that Doti alone is facing. Other districts are also facing similar circumstances. Forest fire in the western side of the district has worsened air quality here,” he said.
He claims that the haze would subside if it would rain. “Pollution levels in the atmosphere would drop down significantly if it would rain. Normally at this time of year, the district should receive pre-monsoon rain fall. But this year, it has not rained so far. This has escalated pollutant levels in the atmosphere,” he explained. – See more at: http://www.myrepublica.com/society/story/41602/forest-fire-haze-robs-doti-of-sunlight.html#sthash.yqBwgZho.dpuf