Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

There is no let-up in wildfires at the Simlipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district. The wildfires are spreading rapidly in the second largest biosphere reserve in Asia since last month of February.

Even though forest officials are trying to douse the fires, they have not been able to contain the blaze fully.

As per sources, the flames are rapidly spreading in Podadiha Range, Patharakhani, Begunapata, and Chitabani areas and devouring greenery in the process.

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As a result, core areas of the forest are facing the heat with fires spreading there. There are several types of plant species, rare orchids and medicinal plants that are getting engulfed in the wildfire.

Similipal is home to many types of birds, reptiles and amphibians and they are the worst affected. Due to the extreme heat caused by the wildfire, the animals and birds are flying and running helter-skelter seeking shelters elsewhere. With a large portion of the forest continuing to burn, the survival of these animals is at stake.

As many as 25 fire points including 19 points in north Similipal and six points in south Similipal were found on Monday.

Even people living on the foothills of the forest are not feeling secure due to the wildfire. They are scared and living miserably due to the severe heat waves arising out of the blaze.

The locals alleged that the forest department has failed miserably to contain the wildfire.

“We are scared as there is a chance that wild animals will head towards our villages putting our lives at stake. Forest officials are not doing enough to douse the fire quickly,” rued a villager.

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As per the environmentalists, Forest Department has failed to take stern actions against the poachers responsible for burning the forest resulting in the spread of wildfire every year. They are also of the opinion that the department lacks sufficient manpower and they are not equipped with modern technology to douse the fire effectively.