The Indian Air Force on Saturday deployed an Mi-17 helicopter with a 11-member team to take cognizance of the situation and douse the blaze in Uttarakhand forests. Meanwhile, early this morning, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) sought information on fires in forests in Uttarakhand from the state government and assured all possible relief.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) deployed three teams on Saturday to control forest fires in Uttarakhand that have destroyed nearly 1900 hectares of forest land in 13 districts since February.
“Three teams of NDRF comprising 135 personnel deployed to control fire in forests in Uttarakhand. The operation has begun,” said O.P. Singh, Director General of NDRF.
The NDRF teams are equipped with water tankers, floating pumps and medical setup to assist the rescue operation. The teams will be posted at Almora, Pauri and Gauchar in Chamoli districts. Chief Secretary Uttarakhand Shatrughan Singh today said that they have increased the number of fire fighters. “We’ve prepared ourselves, we’ve doubled number of personnel working to fight forest fire.”
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul and assured Centre’s assistance to control forest fires and help containing the damage.
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Locals have been told to report a fire incident to the concerned district magistrate as soon as they spot it.
Pre-fire alerts listing possible fire points over the next seven days in forest areas are being made available on the forest department website.
Besides ravaging forests, the fire has killed four people, including two women, in Uttarkashi and a woman and her child in Nainital district. Two others were reportedly burnt in separate incidents in Nainital and Chamoli districts.
Authorities had to close National Highway 58 that connects Badrinath for hours on Thursday after the forest fire could not be controlled.
Governor K K Paul has asked officials to scale up operations to control the fire.
He has ordered deployment of additional staff and allocation of Rs. 5 crore to meet out the immediate financial needs required to control the fires.
Deposed chief minister Harish Rawat has written to Paul urging him to declare Uttarakhand a ‘forest fire-ravaged’ state.
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