New Delhi: The forests of Uttarakhand have been burning for over a week now. The fires have surrounded thousands of hectares of forest, destroying wildlife and burning lakhs of trees. The financial toll is estimated to be in the tune of over Rs 20 crore and higher.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) conducted operations at 10 different locations in three districts viz Pauri, Chamoli, and Almora. Priority has been to prevent the spreading of fire to the inhabited areas by creating fire lanes, controlling fire in reserve forests with available equipment like fire beaters, shovels, spades and pickaxes etc. Green bushes and twigs have also been used to extinguish fire.
Uttarakhand forest fire: Indian Air Force deploys 11-member team with Mi-17 helicopter to control the fire pic.twitter.com/LVY9ZMD0IR
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 30, 2016
This terrible illicit project has been carefully orchestrated by timber and land mafia.“Villagers are paid to set fire to forests and once it goes out the unburned parts are strangely reset till it is all burnt,”Rahul Sharma, an environment expert, said.
"We caught three young minors setting fires to a birding area in Sattal, and we asked them why. They said their father had told them to set fire to the forest. We put out the fire with water from the lake, and the next day it was again set ablaze. Today we saw the dead trees are being marked and cut for sale," he said.
The trees that die and which were engulfed in the fire are cut for timber and sold for a huge sum. It is clearly a mega-windfall for the timber dealers and mafia. Every summer, forest Panchayats are seen in league with the dealers and fires are often lit.
But this year is something different as the entire state of Uttarakhand is ablaze.
The hills are the only natural oxygen source for cities like Delhi-NCR, and their destruction will dry up the rivers causing terrible effect on the fate of India.
A barren, burnt land is what is left of many mountains where last week, there stood a beautiful forest.
The local residents are very concerned about this adverse situation .They want the law to take note as it’s a national emergency.