Uttarakhand: Over 1,000 forest fires in 4 months, crisis looms amid poor preparedness

Nainital, Almora, Pithoragarh, Pauri and Uttarkashi are the worst-affected districts.

WrittenBy:Hridayesh Joshi

Uttarakhand has witnessed more than 1,000 incidents of forest fire this year, both controlled and reported – most of them in Nainital, Almora, Pithoragarh, Pauri and Uttarkashi districts. With the forest becoming dry due to global warming and climate change, and a lack of rain and strong winds in the winter, the phenomenon has worsened.  

Five people have lost their lives in forest fires in the state this year so far, and more than 1,400 hectares of forest has burnt down. After the recent rains in Uttarakhand, while the fire is doused, the threat continues, and the economic and ecological loss is still being estimated. Newslaundry hit the ground and spoke to forest department employees, community members and experts to probe the scale of the issue, its reasons, and the government’s response. 

Environmental experts said the reason behind forest fires is often anthropogenic. The government officials blamed dry weather, while its repeated occurrence also points to poor preparedness and a lack of ground staff and resources. 

The large number of pine trees in Uttarakhand also contributes to the issue. During dry weather, when the thick layer of flammable pine leaves on the ground catches fire, it spreads rapidly. 

The Uttarakhand government has now started a scheme for locals to collect pine leaves and sell them for fuel, fertiliser, the energy sector and cottage industries to prevent fires and also provide employment to the villagers. But is it enough? 


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