Vikash Sharma

Forest fires are raging in Similipal. However, the animals and tigers are safe as the fire points have not touched the core or its adjoining buffer area, informed PCCF Sushant Nanda on Thursday.

In a tweet, Nanda wrote, “Simlipal & it’s tiger have a safe haven to flourish…Our green soldiers & team ODRAF are working in adverse conditions to keep the forest fire at bay. No part of the core or its adjoining buffer area is affected. Fire is seen in areas near to villages in the fringe.” (SIC)

According to Nanda, fire points have been reported from 5 places on Thursday. By yesterday, there were 209 fire points across Similipal in April which is the lowest in the last five years. This has been possible due to awareness among people, the creation of fireline and the deployment of fire squads and ODRAF units.

Also Read | Highest number of forest fires raging in Odisha now

The tigers are mostly inside the core and buffer areas and till now these parts are safe, he said. At present no alert of a large fire point (4kms) has been issued. This has been possible due to timely action to douse the flames by our squads.

“The Odisha government had clearly asked us to work in close coordination with the ODRAF and other units. This year there is an unprecedented heat wave with mercury nearing 45 degrees in Baripada. The ODRAF personnel are experts in handling such situations and we are taking timely steps to douse the fire. The State government has deployed 7 ODRAF teams apart from fire squads in every forest division,” informed Nanda.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Being Used

As there will be peak summer in the month of May, the Forest Department is alert and creating awareness among people near forest areas. Apart from this, AI is being used to help the Forest Department respond to forest fires in Similipal.

As per Nanda, through AI, early information is being received which is helping us to take action and douse flames. Six tower-based AI systems have been installed at different locations at Similipal Sanctuary. These towers are equipped with high-resolution cameras capable of 360-degree movement. These can detect smoke or fire from a distance and send alerts.

Based on alerts, the teams can reach the location via GPS and timely action is being taken to respond to emergency situations.

“Six towers have been installed on an experimental basis at Similipal. We will implement the system in other areas of Odisha including Satkosia. We are also in talks to install AI systems in South Odisha from where maximum fire points are being reported,” Nanda added.

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