Saturday, May 21, 2022

Odisha Forest Fire: Local Outfit Calls For Bandh, Opposition Accuses Government Of Misleading People

Simlipal National Park in Odisha has been ravaged by forest fires for the past two weeks. It is one of Asia's largest biosphere reserves

Odisha Forest Fire: Local Outfit Calls For Bandh, Opposition Accuses Government Of Misleading People
Podadiha Range Vanoomitra Acharya

In wake of the forest fires in Simlipal National Park in Odisha, local outfit Bhanja Sena has called for a 12-hour bandh in Mayurbhanj district on March 10.

The outfit led by students and youth alleged that authorities have failed to control the fire in one of Asia's largest biosphere reserves which has been raging for nearly two weeks now.

"We have called for a 12-hour bandh on March 10 to put pressure on the government to take forest fire incidents seriously," Bhanja Sena founder and North Odisha Tourism Development Council president Kalinga Keshari Jena told reporters.

Opposition Congress on Saturday alleged that the government's claim of gaining control over the forest fire is "untrue". 

Blaming the government for misleading people by their allegedly false claim, Congress spokesperson Sudarshan Das said that NASA pictures show that 30 per cent of the fire is still active.

Noting that state Environment and Forest Secretary Mona Sharma had said two days ago during a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that the fire was under control, Das said, "The claims made by the state government are false and misleading."

Das, who will submit a report to the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee on the situation within two days, claimed that around 40 per cent of Similipal's 2,750 sq km area has been affected by the forest fire and there has been no effort to control it.

He alleged that the Forest Department did not involve the locals in the firefighting operations.

The Odisha government on Wednesday had claimed that the fire had been brought under control and large trees remained unaffected. 

In a statement issued by the Chief Minister's office, the authorities maintained that there was no loss of life in the national park. 

However it was not made clear if the authorities referred to "no loss of life" of humans or animals. 

(With inputs from PTI)