Opinion DC Comment 02 May 2016 Probe blaze in the h ...

Probe blaze in the hills

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published May 2, 2016, 1:06 am IST
Updated May 2, 2016, 1:06 am IST
The immediate need at this point is to ensure that the thousands of hectares of land.
The teams of the specialised National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have fanned out in 13 affected areas of three districts of Pauri Garhwal, Almora and Chamoli to tackle the massive blaze. (Representational photo: PTI)
 The teams of the specialised National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have fanned out in 13 affected areas of three districts of Pauri Garhwal, Almora and Chamoli to tackle the massive blaze. (Representational photo: PTI)

There are conflicting reports on what led to the raging forest fires in Uttarakhand, now spreading to several regions in the Garhwal area even two days after they started. Several disaster and rapid response teams, as well as the Army and Air Force, are helping battle the flames, with some proving untamable. One view is that the timber mafia and locals who need land for cultivation, who collude with the urban rich seeking homes in the hills, are behind the fires, while others feel it is climate change, and lack of rains in the past two monsoons, that led to the extreme dryness that is a tinderbox waiting to erupt into raging fires.

It is a good thing the Uttarakhand high court took suo moto notice of the raging fires and asked the state government for a report by Monday. This might throw some light on what happened, and why. Minister of state for environment Prakash Javdekar has said Isro satellite images show there are 1,300 fires now raging in from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It appears that everyone is aware of what is happening, and that there was no dearth of warnings issued to the state governments since February.

 

The immediate need at this point is to ensure that the thousands of hectares of land, 3,000 acres in Uttarakhand alone, should be taken over by the Centre. This will help ensure that the suspected perpetrators of these fires are not allowed to enjoy the fruits of their perfidious acts.

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