By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 30 Apr: There were 115 incidents of forest fires in the state in past 24 hours, in which more than 149 hectares of forest area was reported to be affected. With this, in this fire season, more than 2581 hectares of forest area has already been affected in 1558 incidents of forest fire in the state according to the official figures. According to a report released by Chief Forest Conservator of Forests and Disaster Management (Forest Fires) Nishant Verma, a woman resident of Pithoragarh has lost her life in the forest fire incidents so far, while six daily and regular employees of the Forest Department have been injured. Last year, in 2780 incidents, 3927 hectares of forest was damaged, he reminded. According to Chief Forest Conservator of Forests and Disaster Management Nishant Verma, two people had died in the forest fires last year, while three people were injured. It may be recalled that forest fires have assumed formidable proportions in the hill districts of Uttarakhand. In view of the increasing difficulties of the forest department, the army has also engaged in extinguishing the fire in the forest. Each year, forest fires engulf a significant proportion of forests in Uttarakhand but the Forest department does not appear to be highly proactive in taking measures in advance to minimise spread of forest fires. While it is true that each summer, some natural causes also lead to forest fires and it is almost impossible to totally prevent forest fires, but clearing the forests of dead wood, dry leaves and low dry bushes and creating fire lines in time can certainly minimise the incidents and the extent of damage done by the fires. Sources claim that even the existing fire lines are not cleared of debris and dry vegetation before the summers, so hard to imagine the top heavy department to really create required numbers of fire lines and clearing the forests of dry vegetation in time. Secondly, the forest department does not share the information of fires on a regular basis with the public, whereas it should issue daily bulletin in this respect during the forest fires season.