Mrunal Manmay Dash

Forest fires continue to rage in the Similipal National Park under Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts in as many as 42 points.

As per reports, forest fire engulfed five points in South Similipal, 29 points in North Similipal, three points in Karanjia forest division and five points in the Rairangpur division.

Acres of forest have been reduced to ashes in the fires, making the wildlife run to other parts of the jungle for safety.

Though fire service personnel have been deployed, the blaze is yet to be brought under control.

When asked about the forest fires, Forest & Environment Minister, Pradeep Amat said, “We have reports of fires in Similipal. Forest department officials and local volunteers have been deployed to extinguish it. We are also seeking the help of locals to douse the blazes fast.”

Odisha PCCF, Debidutta Biswal termed the forest fires man-made. “100 percent of the forest fires are man-made. We are creating awareness among the forest dwellers to be sensitive to forest fires and not throw cigarettes and beedis in the jungle carelessly. Sometimes locals create fires to hunt.”

“I had said it before that we will see more fires than in previous years as there have been no signs of rain since last October. However, we are working on the response rate, which is currently at 92. It means we are responding to 92 fire calls out of every 100,” Biswal added.

The number of forest fires in Similipal reserve forest declined in 2022 as compared to the instances reported in 2021.

As per a Forest department data, while the national park witnessed fires at 2000 points between October 2020 and March 2021, it registered only 1000 fire points in 2022.

(Reported By Deepak Mahant, OTV)