Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Baripada, Mar 17:
Y Mohan, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) today began second leg of his two-day tour of the core and buffer areas of Odisha’s Similipal forest to estimate the damage to the wildlife and forestry caused by the fire that began about two weeks ago and is still raging in some parts.
The CCF visited different ranges under the Baripada Forest Division today to have a firsthand experience of the conditions on the ground and discussed possible causes of the fire breakout with forest department officials, rangers and District Forest Officer (DFO).
He said he would submit the complete report on the fire and its impact to the government as soon as possible. The fire had not affected wildlife in the forest.
“Fire had broken out in some areas of the Similipal reserve forest. It has already been brought under control. I had surveyed the core area yesterday and found out that the fire has not affected the area. Wildlife has not been affected by the fire either. They have been asked to stay alert and keep a strict vigil in the core area and patrol it regularly. They are trying to put off the fire as soon as they notice it. So far, we have not seen fire in any part of the core area of the forest,” said Mohan.
“Different types of people light fire to the forest for different reasons. Some for the mahua and some for ‘podu’ farming. The fire spreads fast due to the dryness of summer. We have asked our staff to douse the fire as soon as they notice it anywhere in the forest,” said a Range Officer.
The fire had started more than a week ago and as many as 39 squads of fire-fighters comprising 390 persons equipped with fire tenders had been pressed into service to douse the fire that has gobbled up large tracts of the reserve forest.
The huge expanse of lush green forested area of Similipal National Park and Tiger Reserve spread over about 2750 sq km area is a compact mass of unique natural forest that controls the climatic regime of the whole of Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. The Similipal Tiger Reserve is the fourth largest tiger reserve in the country.