Forest Fire In Similipal: Core Area & Wildlife Safe, Informs Task Force Chief Sandeep Tripathy


Bhubaneswar: The forest fire in Simlipal is now almost contained and the core area with precious wildlife has not been impacted much, with fires mostly confined to the peripheral areas of the Simlipal Tiger Reserve, informed Task Force chief Sandeep Tripathy.

According to a press note from the Office of the PCCF on forest fire management: “To channelise the action for containment of forest fires in Simlipal in specific, and in the state in general, it has been decided to form a Task Force on Forest Fire Management, under the chairmanship of retired PCCF & HoFF, Dr Sandeep Tripathi, comprising members from the Central/ State Government, civil society and community , which will suggest further steps for prevention of forest fires in the state.”

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also directed to engage ODRAF all over the State to assist in Forest fire mitigation. Further, the PRI institutions would also going to be integrated in community mobilisation in Forest fire mitigation.

Odisha, with more than half of its forests as dry deciduous type, is vulnerable to forest fires. Forest fires are a recurring and regular phenomenon in the state in the summer season with rise in temperature, coupled with huge leaf shedding load of deciduous forests, which are highly combustible and a big fire hazard.

Forest Dept has undertaken a series of measures to check and prevent the proliferation of fires. Fire lines for about 4500 km to prevent the expansion of fires, have been created coupled with burning of fire-prone material under supervision before the onset of summer. Meetings and awareness campaigns with the general public are conducted under the aegis of Van Sanrakshan Samitis (VSS), JEM Committee, and Eco-Development Societies throughout the state, with about 13,500 active VSS/EDCs.

The FD has a state of the art fire prevention and management infrastructure with a geomatic based FITGC (Forest Information technology Geomatic Cell) at Forest Dept, Bhubaneswar. This FITG Cell enables the creation of a satellite-based (SNPP satellite date from NRSC commissioned by FSI, Dehradun) real-time fire monitoring and alert system. The field staff, upto beat guard level, has been provided with 7000 GPS PDA and smartphone-based app. The geotagged fire alert from the satellite is transmitted through auto-generated SMS/Whatsapp & Email to concerned beat officers for dousing the forest fire in the field, consequent to which they upload the geotagged pictures of action taken in extinguishing the fire.

The Forest Fire Prevention & Management SOP has performed effectively in the last 3 years with a reduction in the number of incidents, with fire points in 2017: 36,827 points, in 2018: 31,680 points, in 2019: 19,787 points and 2020: 11,088 points only. This clearly indicates the wherewithal and competence of FD to handle forest fire incidents.

This year, however, has seen an early onset of summer, coupled with no intermittent rains, leading to fungal decay of leaf litter, in the preceding few months which led to a sudden rise in fire incidents all across the state. Now there is high-level mobilisation in the field with more than 6000 staff engaged in fire dousing. A 24×7 Forest Fire Cell is operating in PCCF and PCCF (WL) Offices. The senior officers are monitoring forest fires on the spot. There has been an emphasis on involving the communities in forest fire prevention and extinguishing fires through more than 13500 VSS/EDC& JFMC societies, the press note further mentioned.

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