With rain eluding Odisha since October, forest fires are raging in 142 places in various districts of the state, which is the highest in the country on Tuesday, a senior official said. According to the Forest Survey of India (FSI) data, 391 active fire incidents were reported from across the country by 12 noon during the day.
Odisha tops the chart with 142 active fire points, followed by 58 in Chhattisgarh, 48 in Andhra Pradesh, 37 in Telangana, 32 each in Jharkhand and Karnataka and 15 in Maharashtra. Forest fire incidents were also reported in several other states but they are fewer in number.
Forest fires may start from natural causes such as lightning strikes or when dry tree branches rub against each other during high wind. They can also be man-made when burnt stubs of cigarettes and bidis are thrown away on dry leaves. The FSI data said 12 of the 30 districts of Odisha reported forest fire incidents on Tuesday.
Mayurbhanj district which has Similipal National Park reported the maximum number of forest fires. Such incidents have also been reported from the districts of Koraput, Malkangiri, Nanarangpur, Nuapada, Sundergarh, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Ganjam, Khurda, Keonjhar and Cuttack. The forest department has been working hard to douse the fire at so many places, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Debidutta Biswal told reporters.
“As many as 3,000 forest personnel, 16,000 Vana Surakhya Samitis (forest protection committees) and 280 special squads have been engaged to deal with forest inferno in the state. The members of women self-help groups have also been roped in to create awareness and check the fires which are mostly man-made,” Biswal said.
“It is the beginning of the summer and there are large numbers of forest fires in the state. We are praying for rain as things can get worse from here on. It has been a long dry spell with no rain since October,” he said. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast rain from Tuesday which may help douse forest fires triggered by the long dry spell.
Large forest fires were reported from Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj district, Champua forests in Keonjhar district, Baliguda and Tumudibandh in Kandhamal district, Chandaka in Khurda district, Sunabeda in Nuapada district, Narayanpatna in Koraput district, Mohana in Gajapati district, Jharigaon in Nabarangpur district, Ghumsar in Ganjam and Soro in Balasore district.