Bhubaneswar: While the Odisha government has claimed that the raging fire in some parts of Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district has been brought under control, the environmentalists have disowned the claim.
In his report to the state government, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Wildlife Sashi Paul, who had visited Similipal on Wednesday for an on-the-spot assessment of the dimension of forest fire and loss of flora and fauna, said the forest fire that has rendered extensive damage in Thrkurmunda and Podadihi range, is completely brought under control.
As claimed by the Forest Department, out of total 209 forest beats in Mayurbhanj district, the intensity of forest fire was much higher in 2 to 3 beats. However, the satellite image by Forest Survey of India (FSI) shows that there is fire in 18 forest ranges in the district including 8 to 9 places in Similipal.
Former honourary wildlife warden Bhanumitra Acharya said while there is fire in Baghanta, Thakurani Ghati, Niligada, Makabadi, Andharitota and Kachudaham in Similipal, the claim by Forest officials that there is no loss of flora and fauna in these areas, that too without a field visit is a matter of surprise.
Environmentalist Pradipta Kabi said going by the statement of the Forest Department that there is fire in the aforesaid areas of Similipal for the last 10 days, it is not possible to douse the fire in just two days. “There is no doubt regarding the huge losses of reptile species inhabiting these forests,” he maintained.
Talking to the media on Friday, Fire Officer Prakash Jena said while the fire has been brought under control in Anantapur, Balinala, Khandachira and Nacchipur beats, efforts are on to douse fire in Barehipani, Tulasibana, Chadhei Pahada, Gudugudala and Nana forest beats besides some core and buffer areas in the northern part of Similipal.
Stating that 100 additional forest staff have been pressed into service in 209 forest beats, the PCCF, Wildlife said steps have been taken to prevent the fire spreading into the other core areas of the park.