After videos of a forest fire in Odisha’s Simlipal caused concerns among environmentalists and conservationists, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has reviewed the situation. The Union Minister for Forests and Environment, Prakash Javadekar, has asked for a report on the fire. Officials say while the situation is under control, the problem is far from over with rising temperatures.
Disturbing images from the Simlipal forest in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha showed bright orange flames in the night and plumes of smoke during the day.
As the forest is home to Tigers, Asiatic elephants and other endangered wildlife species and flora and fauna, these fires have drawn the attention of wildlife conservationists.
Simlipal has 21 ranges and eight have been affected, sources say. Mr Javadekar has asked officers to take immediate action and report to him.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s office tweeted, “Chief Minister @Naveen_Odisha reviewed the situation following the forest fire in Simlipal National Park and asked officials to take preventive measures to control it. CM said Simlipal is an invaluable treasure not only for the country but also for the entire world.”
“Officials informed that the forest fire is under control and there is no loss of lives or any damage to the big trees. An SOP has been issued to deal with the situation and senior officials are present on the spot to monitor the forest fire and give daily updates,” the Chief Minister’s Office added.
Officials say temperatures are extremely high this year; the dry deciduous forests are on fire and are being attended to on priority.
The worry is that this is just the beginning of summer and the entire period of February to May is when the forest department is on high alert for fires, they added.
2021, officials say, is going to be a challenging year as temperatures have risen early thereby increasing the risk of forest fires. Top officials of the Odisha forests and environment department told NDTV that several additional resources have been pumped in keeping the situation in mind.