Raging forest fires in Uttarakhand prompted the Centre to send in three companies of the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF to put out the flames and conduct rescue operations. In all, 135 personnel have been pushed into service in the hill state, sources said.
Governor KK Paul had asked for the NDRF’s help to deal with the crisis. He had, on Thursday, doubled the number of state personnel deployed to tackle the fires to 6,000. A high-level meeting he chaired of the state’s top officials also decided to provide water tankers to put out
Since early February, 922 incidents of forest fires in the state have been reported in which five people, including three women and a child, died in separate incidents, the news agency Press Trust of India. Seven others were injured, Principal Conservator of Forest (PCF) BP Gupta said.
Pauri, Tehri and Nainital are the worst affected districts because they have a thick cover of Cheed and Sal trees which are highly inflammable, officials said.
Locals have being told to report a fire incident to the district magistrate concerned as soon as they sight it.
“The NDRF companies, assisted by experts, will launch fire extinguishing and rescue operations in affected areas immediately,” Chief Secretary Shatrughna Singh said, adding the focus is on taking precautions to minimise loss to forest wealth and wildlife.
Inspector General of Police Sanjay Gunjyal has been deputed to coordinate with the NDRF, the district magistrates concerned and Principal Conservator of Forest to supervise the rescue operations, he said.
Locals have being told to report a fire incident to the district magistrate concerned as soon as they sight it so that it can be controlled in time.