Himansu Shekhar Rout

Given possible intense heat wave conditions to sweep Odisha during summer, the forest department and the authorities of the Similipal sanctuary are reportedly concerned about the safety of the sanctuary from incidents of forest fires that are likely to rage at the time.

To keep tabs on the forest fires, the sanctuary authorities have planned to install 360-degree surveillance on such incidents through CCTVs. It has been seen in the past that once a fire broke out in any part of the forest in the sanctuary, the department found it difficult to douse the blaze immediately and the fire fighting exercise used to linger for days together.

Moreover, there are some remote and inaccessible places where immediate detection of fires is a difficult proposition for forest officials. Hence, it gets delayed to have information about forest fires. By that time, the forest fires engulf vast swathes of flora and fauna.

The sanctuary authorities have given importance to the use of technology to get advance info about fires for quick action.  
A control room will function 24X7 for the CCTVs. A CCTV will keep a vigil on forest fires within a 15-km radius and immediately send captured images of fires to the control room.

The CCTV cameras can also alert about the entry of poachers in the area. The sanctuary authorities are already making use of thermal drone cameras to track poachers and forest fires.    

On the other hand, the forest department has been sensitizing people by organising meetings and moving some vehicles at different places about the need to exercise caution against fires in forests.   

Sai Kiran, deputy director of Similipal Sanctuary (North) said, ”Keeping the possible forest fires in view, we have started preparations to check such incidents from November and December, 2023. A district action plan has been drawn up with the help of officials of the line departments to determine their roles in fire fighting in forests.”

He further stated that awareness drives are being carried out and an important message for people is that precaution should be taken to ward off forest fires.