Bhubaneswar: When the raging fire in Asia's second-largest biosphere reserve Simlipal National Park has caught the imagination of national and international media, an embarrassed Odisha government has rushed a team led by PCCF Shashi Paul to take stock of the situation at the ground and submit a report to the State government.
The committee after a near 3-day stay at the ground zero has returned to the State Capital, and speaking to the OTV Correspondent on Friday, Odisha PCCF Paul said,
"The fire situation in Simlipal National Park is quite normal, though a perception has been made about how the fire has gone wild in the second largest biosphere reserve in the State. The situation has never gone out of control and the fire points have been limited to the periphery of the national park. The core is intact and safe."
Refuting the reports of animals succumbing to wildfire in Simlipal, he said,
"This has been a ground fire, which means the fire is limited to the dry leaves and bushes at the ground level. No big trees and animals have been harmed in any manner by the ground fire."
On the trigger factor behind the fire, the PCCF Odisha said, "Our priority now is to douse the fire points and control it so that it will not spread to newer areas. The causative factor will be assessed later."
However, he informed us that since the fire is limited to peripheral areas of the reserve forest, lying in close proximity to the villages, our preliminary assessment is the fire is triggered by human factors like the burning of stubble or Mahula.
"A contingent of 1k fire-fighters have been stationed at Simlipal every year to meet the fire exigencies there. They have been equipped with fire blowers and other latest equipments. Fire lines have also been constructed this year to stop the fanning of fire. We have the requisite resources - manpower and equipments - to fight any forest fire exigencies," the PCCF informed.
BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM PCCF STATEMENT
- As per the State Principal Chief Conservator Of Forests (PCCF), fire in Simlipal reserve has been an annual feature.
- But in the previous years, it didn't hog the national and international headlines.
- Human factors have been the primary trigger factor behind the fires in the Simlipal.
- The fire incident in the national park came a little early this year due to the dry season and rise in temperature.
- No big trees and animals affected. But silent on medicinal herb plants.
- No comparative data about the number of fire points this year and earlier years provided
THE KEY INFERENCE: As human factors are the trigger behind the forest fire every year, the key fact remains here is there have been no policy measures undertaken to reduce the fire points in the region.
The fact, therefore, remains is the fire in Simlipal hogged the national headlines this year because the fire points have increased vis-a-vis the earlier years.
THE BOTTOMLINE: The PCCF didn't say that the fire has stopped completely in the reserve forest area.