Representative Pic
Representative Pic

Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Madhya Pradesh known for its largest forest cover is on fire as over 77,000 square kilometre forest area has already burned out in over 28,000 incidents of raging fires. The country reported 43,031 alerts during the corresponding fortnight in 2020, according to GFW data using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) alerts.

MP saw the highest number of VIIRS alerts (22,797) during the fortnight, in line with the trend of the past five years. But this is also double the 11,609 alerts that the state recorded in April 1-14, 2020. Jharkhand (5,284 VIIRS alerts this month) and Odisha (5,000 alerts) have also seen a significant rise in the number of VIIRS alerts.

Of these, 4,411 incidents were found to be major fires. The Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, a prominent tourist destination in eastern MP, witnessed a major fire recently.

According to the fire alert, there has been a forest fire in the Indore forest area more than fifty times including Indore, Choral, Mhow and Manpur ranges in 25 days! These are major fires, smaller fires are often ignored.

Shockingly, despite rising fire incidents, barely a few cases are registered. Apart from Choral, the forest area of Indore, Mhow and Manpur have also witnessed wildfires in the last 25 days.

India recorded 82,170 forest fire alerts from April 1-14, 2021 nearly double the number reported during the same period past year, according to Global Forest Watch (GFW), an open-source monitoring application.

The number of forest fire alerts in April 2021 is also the highest in five years, according to the data. The second-highest was during the corresponding period of 2017, when 78,716 VIIRS alerts were recorded. In the 2016, 2018 and 2019 periods, the number of alerts recorded were 56,067, 25,701 and 43,508, respectively.

HS Mohanta, chief conservator of forest
HS Mohanta, chief conservator of forest

What is causing the forest fires?

“We monitor the fires with the use of satellites to reduce the response time,” chief conservator of forest HS Mohanta said. He added that sooner the fire is detected, easier is the firefighting operation. “We mostly get the fire locations and their geo-coordinates on SMS. The staff are then deputed to carry on the firefighting immediately,” Mohanta said.

The fire reports come through the satellites orbiting at around 0100-0200 hrs, 1000-1100 hrs and 1300-1400 hrs throughout the country on a daily basis.

“Apart from this we have our watch towers located at strategic points overlooking a vast forest patch are on the job round the clock. The message is conveyed to those locations,” Mohanta said.

Joint Forest Management committees also keep on informing the fire incidents and locals are engaged to douse the fire at the earliest. A long dry spell has been the major concern for the fire incidences this year.

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