Baripada, Apr 5 (PTI) The fire in Similipal National Park has been “totally” controlled this season thanks to the massive awareness programmes involving all the stakeholders, including tribal communities, a top forest official said on Tuesday.
Forest fire is an annual phenomenon in the UNESCO biosphere reserve in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district that is home to rich biodiversity.
Fire incidences were noticed in Nawana range of Similipal north division on March 29 and were doused immediately, Similipal Tiger Reserve field director M Yogajayanand told PTI.
The blaze had engulfed several areas of Similipal forest, which is home to black tiger and many endangered species of flora and fauna, and the authorities battled to prevent a repeat of the devastating inferno that wreaked havoc there a year ago.
Yogajayanand appealed to all not to spread misinformation on the fire.
“The forest fire in Similipal is totally controlled this season due to massive awareness programmes involving local tribal communities, tribal leaders, nature lovers and NGOs,” he said.
The Similipal National Park authority has been conducting mass-awareness drives and training programmes in villages inside it to create fire breaks in buffer areas. The measure will prevent the spread of uncontrolled fire toward the core areas, forest department officials said.
Hundreds of fire watchers have been deployed in various strategic locations of Similipal and mock drills were organised at many places. Drones are being used to detect forest fires, they said.
Villagers are also extending help to carry out the controlled burning exercise in which dry vegetation in the forest area is intentionally set ablaze to reduce the risk of wildfires, the officials said.
Between February-March in 2021, the situation went out of control in Similipal forest due to a wildfire there and it took almost three weeks to contain it. The Odisha government had to seek the assistance of central forces to control the inferno, which wreaked havoc and made national headlines.
The Similipal forest derives its name from the ‘shimul’ (red silk cotton) tree. It consists of a wildlife sanctuary, tiger reserve and a national park. PTI COR HMB KK KK
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Source: The Print