Bhubaneswar: As several forest areas in the state are battling wildfires, the government has devised a new innovative approach for efficient and effective tracking and prevention of forest fires.
The state Forest and Environment department has designed a special app to track and fight forest fires during summer.
A WhatsApp group called 'Forest Fire Alert' has also been created for sharing alerts and information to facilitate tracking, preventing and fighting such fires. Forest officials and locals who will be members of squads to help them will be included in the group.
A fire control room has also been opened inside forest headquarters office which will coordinate with officials during fires and also keep track of the fire fighting operations.
"If we can track the fires immediately through satellite then we can prevent a lot of damage. The method would be preventive. Since we act after the fires spread we are not able to prevent the damages. So I think we are taking a rigorous approach this time," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, (Wildlife) Sandip Tripathy said.
On the other hand, environmentalists have raised concerns that steps taken by the government are not enough.
"Forest conservation committees comprising locals should be actively involved with forest personnel in dealing with forest fires. They should be trained and provided orientation for the same. Even though we have suggested several such measures, the government is not using them properly," environmentalist Biswajit Mohanty said.
Meanwhile, from Banigochha and Daspalla forests in Nayagarh to buffer zones in Similipal National Park including Dengam, Matihudi and Badakhaman area in Mayurbhanj, wildfires have been razing acres of forest land.
Fires have caused widespread damage to valuable medicinal plants, timber wood and are posing threat to all kinds of flora and fauna. Not only that, air pollution also looms large on nearby areas, said experts.
Statistics reveal that the state had witnessed a total of 24,088 fires last year.