By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 5 Apr: Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat today stated that the state government was making serious efforts to control the outbreak of forest fires in the state. He added that every necessary and available resource was being used for this purpose. He disclosed that the Union Government had provided helicopters of the Indian Air Force for the purpose. Today, one Mi-17 helicopter was used in district Tehri to extinguish fires in forests under the Narendra Nagar Forest Division. Another Air Force chopper reached Haldwani, today, which would be used for the same purpose in Kumaon division.
The Chief Minister thanked the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, and the Union Government for making available the Mi-17 helicopters on priority immediately at his request. It is worth mentioning that, on Sunday, Chief Minister Rawat had spoken to Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the phone and urged him to provide choppers to be used to extinguish the fires in the forests of Uttarakhand.
Meanwhile, Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat said that the forest department was fully prepared to control the forest fires in the state. All the leaves of officers and other officials of the forest department had been cancelled in view of the emergency. He added that the cooperation of local people was also being sought in areas where the forest fires are raging.
As per information provided by Divisional Forest Officer, Narendranagar Forest Division, Muni Ki Reti, an exercise was carried out to extinguish the fire in the forest using an Air Force MI-17 helicopter. In the initial phase, the exercise was carried out in Adwani No 04 and Tamiyar (Fakot Block, Tehri) in Narendranagar range of Narendranagar Forest Division in Tehri District today. Earlier, the chopper had landed at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun at 8:30 a.m. After the completion of the initial preparations, the air operation to extinguish forest fires was launched at 10 a.m. and the forest fires were controlled by spraying 10,000 litres of water over the affected areas. Four sorties were carried out, lifting the water from Koti Colony (Tehri Lake) in a huge bucket of 5,000 litres capacity. The air operations continued till 12: 40 p.m. but were later stopped due to unfavourable weather conditions. According to forest sources, the operations would resume tomorrow morning. It was disclosed that the firefighting exercise being carried out involved Air Force teams, Uttarakhand Forest teams, Civil Aviation Department, District Administration and local people.