Officials Fail To Respond To 40% Of Forest Fire Incidents In Odisha

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Bhubaneswar: Even as forest fire broke out in Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary shortly after the fire in Similipal National Park was brought under control, the state government has admitted that the Forest officials at ground level have not responded to 40% of fire incidents.

After the fire in Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district raged for almost 10 days, raising grave concern among the environmentalists, Lingaraj Otta, special secretary, Forest and Environment department had in a letter alerted the divisional forest officers (DFOs) on March 3.

He had expressed concern over the fact that though the Forest Survey of India (FSI) had reported about the points having very high probability of fire incidents in March, those have not been responded to immediately.

“It is seen that about 60 per cent of the reported fire points have only been responded to. It is imperative that all the fire points in the fields are attended to on a priority basis and the forest fire should be extinguished immediately before it spreads to adjoining forest areas,” DownToEarth quoted Otta as saying in the letter.

It may be noted that though the Odisha government has claimed to have brought the fire in some parts of Similipal National Park has been brought under control, the environmentalists have disowned the claim.

After making an on-the-spot assessment, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Wildlife Sashi Paul in his report said the forest fire that has rendered extensive damage in Thrkurmunda and Podadihi range, is completely brought under control.

But the satellite image of the FSI shows that there is fire in 18 forest ranges in the district including 8 to 9 places in Similipal.

Also Read: Forest Fire Under Control, Says Odisha Govt; Environmentalists Disown Claim

Close on the heels of Similipal, major fire has broken out on the Nandari hill near Balianala of Kuladiha sanctuary in Balasore district on Friday. It is suspected to have been caused by some miscreants who have set the hilly terrain on fire.

In a related incident, three persons were arrested for starting a fire in Jharabeda Reserve Forest in Keonjhar district in order to hunt the wild animals.

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