Uttarakhand Forest Fires: 5 Dead, Rain Expected Today Amid Raging Wildfires; SC Hearing Tomorrow

These fires have destroyed over 1,000 hectares of forest land across Uttarakhand since November last year.

Fire in forest of Nainital district Photo: PTI

Atleast five people have died in the forest fires in Uttarakhand which witnessed 20 new forest fires in the past 24 hours, according to a bulletin from the Forest Department.

The Meteorological Department has informed about a rain forecast in parts of the state which may help with dousing the blaze.

The Supreme Court hearing on the cases against the origin of the forest fires is scheduled on May 8.

These fires destroyed about 52.07 hectares of forest land so far and over 1,000 hectares of forest land have been destroyed across Uttarakhand since November last year.

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: Aerial Firefighting Used

The Uttarakhand government on Monday resorted to aerial firefighting which is using planes to drop water on forest fires once again to contain the raging forest fires in the state. They also deployed the National Disaster Response Force in the worst affected Pauri and Almora districts.

The state government first resorted to aerial firefighting on April 27 when a forest fire reached dangerously close to a residential area in Nainital.

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: Death Toll

Five people have died in the forest fires in Uttarakhand and among them is a 65-year-old woman named Savitri Devi.

She got hurt while trying to stop a fire on her farm in Thalpi village and passed away at AIIMS Rishikesh on Sunday.

She noticed the fire on Saturday while collecting grass bundles.

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: Rain Expected From Today

According to reports, the Director of the Meteorological Center in Dehradun, Bikram Singh, mentioned that there might be rain in Uttarakhand starting from May 7 to May 8.

He said it could become heavier from May 11. This rain could help put out the forest fires.

Singh also said the rain is expected to begin in the Kumaon region on May 7 and in the Garhwal region on May 8.

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: Supreme Court Hearing Tomorrow

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to urgently hear cases about the Uttarakhand forest fires on May 8.

The petitioners claimed that 90 per cent of the fires were caused by people.

Justice B.R. Gavai, leading the Bench, told the petitioners, including senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, to inform the lawyer appointed to assist the court, advocate K. Parameshwar.

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: What Has The Administration Said?

Garhwal Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Swapnil Anirudh said, "Aerial firefighting is going on in Pauri and will continue for some time."

Chief Secretary Radha Raturi told PTI that the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter scooped up water from the Alaknanda river using a Bambi Bucket. Then, it dropped this water over the burning forests in Dobh Shrikot and other places to put out the fires.

Throughout the day, many similar flights were made to tackle the fires.

"We have also decided to deploy NDRF in Pauri and Almora districts from where the maximum number of forest fire incidents have been reported," Raturi said.

With the soaring temperatures likely to further aggravate the situation, stubble and garbage burning have been completely banned for the time being, the chief secretary said.

She said an elaborate action plan has been prepared to control the situation with the involvement of the Mahila and Yuvak Mangal Dals at the local level, PAC, homeguards and PRD personnel apart from the fire watchers.

Small water tanks will be bought by the disaster management department that can be sent to the hills to extinguish the flames. Foam fire extinguishers will also be used, Raturi said.

Director General of Police (DGP) Abhinav Kumar said stern action will be taken against anyone caught lighting a fire in forests, either deliberately or otherwise.

Initially, action will be taken against them under the forest and wildlife acts but if need be, properties of repeat offenders would be sealed under the Gangster Act and they may be made to pay for the damage caused to public property, the DGP said.

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: 13 FIRs Lodged, 4 Arrests Made

So far, 13 FIRs have been lodged against six people for starting forest fires and four of them have been arrested.

Forest officials have registered a case against Piyush Singh, Ayush Singh, Rahul Singh, and Ankit for starting a fire in Gangolihat forest range of Pithoragarh district.