Updated: March 9, 2021 3:04:09 am
The Odisha state government on Monday formed a state-level task force amid growing concern about increasing incidents of forest fires now being reported from across the state. The nine-member task force, chaired by former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Dr Sandeep Tripathi, is entrusted with reviewing the incidents of forest fire, its causes and suggesting improvements in SOPs for better fire management and containing the situation.
The panel is also expected to recommend suggestions for improved community participation in fire management and prevention, as well as to conduct assessment of areas affected by forest fires and the loss to wildlife, and suggest appropriate measures for augmentation.
“The fire incidents are accentuated because there are huge loads of dry combustible leaves on the forest floor which otherwise would decay after one or two hours of rains in preceding months,” Tripathi told The Indian Express. “Massive community involvement along with technological assistance for satellite-based fire points dousing is needed, which pay immediately positive results,” he said, while maintaining that forest fires in the state are under control and have not spread in the core area.
Compared to last year when 463 fire points were reported between February to March, this year 7,072 incidents have been reported during the same time period.
Meanwhile, the forest department has also tightened its vigil in the areas to arrest those lighting any patch in the forest area. In Simlipal, the forest department on Monday arrested one person on similar charges. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday also ordered deployment of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force teams across the state to control fires.
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