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State gets two choppers from Centre to fight forest fires

Monday, 05 April 2021 | PNS | Dehradun

CM talks to Home minister, holds emergency meeting to review situation

Considering the rising forest fire incidents in Uttarakhand, the Centre has provided two helicopters to the state for fighting the fires. Stating this while chairing an emergency video conference with senior officials of the state administration, forest department and police on Sunday, chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat said that he had talked to the Union Home minister Amit Shah regarding the situation. Shah has assured the state of all possible assistance for tackling forest fires. If needed, teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will also be sent to Uttarakhand, he said.

One helicopter will be stationed at Gauchar and use water from Srinagar while the second helicopter stationed at Haldwani will use water from Bhimtal lake. The State officials are also in touch with central government officials. On the directions of the CM, all leaves of forest department officers have been put on hold. All the officers and personnel have been directed to remain present at their place of posting. Further, fire watchers posted across the state have also been directed to monitor the situation 24 hours.

Chairing the video conference, Rawat reviewed the present status of forest fires and efforts being undertaken to tackle the situation. The CM said that information about forest fires should be received at the control room without delay and the response time should be decreased. The help of Van Panchayats and local people should be taken but it should also be ensured that children and the aged do not get involved in fire fighting. In addition to conducting an elaborate campaign for raising public awareness, bushes should be cleared from near villages and residential areas, he said. Apart from ensuring timely compensation as per the rules to those who suffer damage due to forest fires, the CM also directed that there should be no dearth of vehicles and equipment at the field level. These should be arranged without losing any time in places where necessary. Rawat said, “Protection of forests is among the traditions of Uttarakhandis. However, some mischievous elements intentionally set up forest fires. Such persons should be identified and stern action should be taken against them. Special attention should be paid to the Kumbh Mela area. A long term plan should be made to minimise forest fire incidents in the future.”

According to information provided by officials, a total of 983 forest fire incidents have taken place affecting 1,292 hectares this year. At present there are 40 active forest fires. Nainital, Almora, Tehri and Pauri are affected more by forest fires. A total of 12,000 personnel are involved in extinguishing forest fires while 1,300 fire crew stations have been set up.

Chief secretary Om Prakash, principal chief conservator of forests Rajiv Bhartari, director general of police Ashok Kumar, secretaries Amit Negi, Shailesh Bagauli, SA Murugeshan and other officials concerned were also present in the meeting. 

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