Mrunal Manmay Dash

Almost all forest fires are manmade, said Odisha Forest & Environment Minister, Pradip Kumar Amat during zero hour in Odisha Assembly on Wednesday.

As per Amat, 22,786 fire points have been reported in Odisha till March 13 this year, out of which 4563 are not from the jungle. Those fires are mainly from stubble burning.

“Forest department is on its toes to extinguish forest fires wherever they start as soon as possible. We have extinguished 22,316 points (98 percent) fire points in the jungles of Odisha.”

Putting the blame on the Centre, Amat said, “The Centre has reduced its portion of financial assistance it was providing for tackling forest fires. Earlier the Centre-State fund ratio to manage forest fire was 60:40. But in this budget, the Centre has reduced its share further. It should be more sensitive to the issue.”

“We have directed to detain and question suspicious persons found roaming in the reserve forests and in other jungles. Action will be taken against those found lighting fires in the jungle,” he added.

As per reports, there has been 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 February this year.

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

(Reported By Harihar Chand, OTV)