About a week after the forest fires in different parts of Uttarakhand were doused, largely due to rains, the blaze has returned, this time on Varunavat Parvat in Uttarkashi. The raging inferno was noticed at 4 am on Sunday and a team of 25 forest personnel was rushed to battle the flames.
Forest fires across the state have engulfed more than 4,000 hectares of land till April 29 this year. However, the incidents came to a halt after May 5 owing to a good spell of rain.
On Sunday, forest fire ravaged an area of Varunavat Parvat, which has been studied by Geological Survey of India (GSI) last year as it is prone to landslides.
Giving details on the latest fire incident, principal chief conservator of forests (Uttarakhand), Rajender Mahajan said, “The fire was witnessed at 4 in the morning at Varunavat Parvat. The divisional forest officer sent 25 forest personnel to the affected area. The extent of damage is yet to be ascertained. However, there are no reports of injury to any human or casualties.”
According to locals, the fire was massive and smoke could be seen billowing out late in the evening. The forest department officials have said that the fire is largely under control.
GSI experts have dispelled fears that the fire could further damage the landslide-prone mountain. GSI has last year studied the vulnerable spots on the mountain and treated them with scientific methods, such as removing loose material and, to curb such incidents. GSI director, Bhupender Singh, said, “The landslide zone has also been treated with scientific methods by GSI. The fire would not be able to aggravate damage to this zone.”
The continuing spell of dryness in the state in the past week has set alarm bells ringing in the forest department. “The way the spell of rain has come to an abrupt halt and dryness being reported from several regions in the state we are on our guard,” Mahajan said, adding that forest officials have also held a meeting with the CM in this regard.