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As Forest Fire Rages in Uttarakhand, Officers Leave for UK on 'Study Tour'; Locals Asked to 'Take Care' of Woodland

On Monday noon, the fire extended till the Corbett Tiger Reserve raising an alarm bell as the area houses rich biodiversity and several animal species, including Bengal tigers.

Anupam Trivedi | News18

Updated:May 14, 2019, 12:06 AM IST
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As Forest Fire Rages in Uttarakhand, Officers Leave for UK on 'Study Tour'; Locals Asked to 'Take Care' of Woodland
Smoke rises after forest fire breaks out (Representational photo)

Dehradun: A 'study tour' of Uttarakhand forest officials to the United Kingdom and Poland has raised several eyebrows as the trip comes at a time when nearly 900 hectares of forest are burning due to forest fire that has spread in almost all the hill districts of the state.

According to forest department records, a total of 711 fire incidents were reported till Monday noon, destroying 984 hectares of forest. The area comprised oak, pine and other varieties of trees. The forest department has an analysis of losses up to Rs 16 lakh due to the blaze caused by a rise in temperature.

On Monday noon, the fire extended till the Corbett Tiger Reserve raising an alarm bell as the area houses rich biodiversity and several animal species, including Bengal tigers.

Despite the vast destruction, three top Indian Forest Service (IFS) officials — chief forest conservator Vivek Pande, forest conservator Parag Madhukar Dhakate and divisional forest officer Nitish Mani Tripathi — left for United Kingdom and Poland for two weeks.

The government order reads that the officials will participate in a joint programme with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Zoological Society of London to study tiger footprint in the Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary. The tour was cleared by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF) Jairaj, who in a recorded message advised locals to "take care" of the forests.

"Forests belong to you (locals). Take good care of forests and help us in controlling fire," Jairaj can be heard saying in the audio. The forest department has also announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for those who will tip off about the "person responsible for torching forests". However, the announcement has failed to generate any interest among the local residents.

As the officials left for the tour, the fire further spread to interiors of Chamoli districts in Garhwal region. However, in Nainital, a short spell of rain brought some relief and doused the fire in some 80 hectares of land.

Every year thousands of hectares of lush green forests in Uttarakhand are affected by the blaze. Recently, a RTI reply from the department revealed that more than 44,000 hectares of forest worth over Rs 15 million had been gutted in fire incidents ever since Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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