April 10, 2021 8:06:00 pm
NOT A single bird of animal perished in 3,031 forest fires that broke out in several forests across Gujarat during the past three years. A total of 48 trees were gutted, according to the Gujarat government.
There has been an increase of nearly 22 per cent in the number of forest fires during this three-year period between 2018-19 and 2020-21 (up to November 11, 2020), shows the government data tabled during the recently concluded budget session of the Gujarat Assembly. The government tabled the data regarding the fires in response to an unstarred question asked by Congress MLA from Bhiloda, Dr Anil Joshiyara.
The government said there were 1,027 incidents of forest-fires during 2018-19. The number of forest-fires rose to 1251 in 2020-21 (till November 11, 2020). The only casualty in these fires were 48 trees, the government stated. No birds or animals were killed in these fires, it added.
Most of these forest fires have broken out in tribal areas of the Gujarat that have dense forest cover. For instance, between 2017-18 and 2019-20, Dangs reported 545 incidents of forest-fires which was the highest in the Gujarat.
During this three year period, higher number of forest fires were reported from other districts such as Narmada (382 forest fires), Tapi (347), Dahod (295), Valsad (252) and Mahisagar (238). Junagadh which houses the Gir sanctuary, reported 43 forest fires during this period, show state government data.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Head of Forest Force (HoFF), Dr Dinesh Kumar Sharma told The Indian Express that the fires were not serious ones. “These are not very serious fires. These are small incidents.
During the summer season, villagers go to collect Mahuda and toddy. They tend to burn these flowers and sometimes fires happen due to this. Most of fires are ground fires where littered dry leaves burn,” Dr Sharma said.
Gujarat has a forest cover of 14,700 square kilometres (km), of which 378 square km are very dense forests, 5,200 square km is dense forests and remaining are open forests. According to India State Forest Report 2019, 32 square km of forest cover in Gujarat is extremely fire prone.
“Now we have a higher alert system in place and so even small incidents gets noticed. This is a satellite-based monitoring of the Forest Survey of India where we get alerted whenever there is fire. So our teams act in time,” Dr Sharma said.
The Forest fire alerts are disseminated based on inputs received from two satellite systems of NASA and ISRO. Alerts regarding the fire hotspots are transmitted to the mobile phones of registered users through SMS and information is also shared with state nodal officers.
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