Uttarakhand: Forest Fire Spreads To Nainital, Threatens Civilian Area; Boating Banned

Uttarakhand: Forest Fire Spreads To Nainital, Threatens Civilian Area; Boating Banned

The blaze has now reached the outskirts of Nainital, casting a pall of smoke over the picturesque hill town and prompting urgent measures from authorities to contain the flames.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Saturday, April 27, 2024, 07:57 PM IST
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Uttarakhand Forest Fire Spread To Nainital Threaten Civilian Area, Boating Banned |

Mumbai: A seemingly innocuous act of setting a portion of the forest ablaze by a sheep herder in Tadiyaal village of Jakholi, Uttarakhand, has spiraled into a widespread inferno, engulfing vast swathes of the state's lush greenery. The blaze has now reached the outskirts of Nainital, casting a pall of smoke over the picturesque hill town and prompting urgent measures from authorities to contain the flames.

Reports indicate that the fire has encroached upon Nainital's High Court Colony, posing a grave threat to nearby structures. In response, the administration has solicited assistance from Army personnel, who are working alongside firefighters to quell the inferno.

The situation remains dire as the inferno persists, unabated, for over 36 hours, necessitating the intervention of the Indian Air Force, which has mobilized the Mi-17 helicopter for Bambi Bucket Operations to douse the flames.

A ban on boating in Nainital Lake has been enforced as a precautionary measure. Confirming the extent of the blaze, the assistant registrar of the High Court revealed that an old, vacant house near The Pines has been engulfed by flames. “Fortunately, no casualties have been reported thus far, but the fire continues to edge perilously close to residential areas,” he said.

Simultaneously, another forest fire has been reported in the Lariya Kanta area of Nainital district, resulting in partial damage to an ITI building, Villages in the vicinity of Nainital, including Baldiyakhan, Jeolikot, Mangoli, Khurpatal, Devidhura, Bhawali, Pinus, Bhimtal, and Mukteshwar, have borne the brunt of the conflagration, further intensifying the need for swift and decisive action.

In a separate incident, three individuals were apprehended in Rudraprayag while attempting to ignite forest fires. The Uttarakhand forest department has intensified its crackdown on perpetrators, with 146 cases filed for 'man-made' forest fires this year alone.

The toll of destruction wrought by these infernos is staggering, with 33.34 hectares of forest land decimated in the past week alone. Over the last 24 hours, 31 new fire incidents have been reported, exacerbating an already dire situation.

Nishant Verma, additional principal chief conservator of forests and state nodal officer for forest fires, elucidated the grim reality, stating, "Till April 25, the forest department registered 146 cases of ‘man-made’ fire incidents. In the 146 cases, 17 people have been named and the rest 129 are unidentified. We have been making efforts to identify those who are still unidentified."

As the state grapples with this environmental catastrophe, the toll of devastation continues to mount. From November 1 last year to date, Uttarakhand has witnessed a staggering 575 incidents of forest fires, ravaging 689.89 hectares of precious forest land and incurring significant economic losses. The relentless onslaught of these infernos underscores the urgent imperative for heightened vigilance and concerted efforts to safeguard Uttarakhand's ecological heritage.

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