The Uttarakhand forest department will soon initiate measures for controlled burning of combustible materials like pine dry leaves and twigs in the Uttarkashi division after almost nine hectares of forests have been burnt in forest fires in the past 20 days.
Forest fires are generally reported in Uttarakhand from February to June with a peak usually in May and June. But despite the onset of winter in the state and even snowfall in higher reaches like the Kedarnath area, forest areas in places like Uttarkashi are reporting fires.
Sandeep Kumar, divisional forest officer of Uttarkashi forest division said, “Around eight forest fire incidents have been reported in the past few days from the Ganga valley leading to the loss of nine hectares of forest. The forest fires are being reported due to dryness in the forests because of a lack of rainfall. Many ranges in the division last received rain in mid-August and forests have become dry now.”
The official said that after repeated instances of forest fire, the department will soon start controlled burning in fire lines before heavy snowfall starts in the region.
In the early hours of Sunday, forest fire was reported from parts of Yamuna valley in the district.
Mayur Dixit, district magistrate of Uttarkashi district said, “Forest fire was reported from parts of Yamuna valley in the early hours of Sunday, which were brought under control by afternoon. To manage the fire, we had taken help from personnel from Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) along with the district disaster management team.”
According to the records of the state forest department, 135 incidents of forest fire have been reported in the state till November 1 this year with 68.33 hectares of reserve forests being affected.
Uttarakhand forests are prone to forest fires, with its vast forest cover especially that of tropical dry deciduous forest, subtropical pine forest. While some fires are caused by human activity, lightning and friction from falling rocks also spark forest fires.
Over 44,554 hectares of forest area or an area of roughly 61,000 football grounds have been damaged in forest fires in Uttarakhand since its formation in 2000, accruing a loss of over Rs 185 lakh, according to the forest department’s reply to an RTI query recently.