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Himachal

Posted at: Jun 12, 2019, 6:32 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2019, 1:27 PM (IST)

Rain brings relief, but forest fires rage across hill state

541 cases reported so far; Nahan, Dharamsala, Solan worst affected

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 11

Rain and showers that lashed the state capital here today brought some relief from the scorching heat, but had little impact on forest fires, which have been raging across the state for the last fortnight.

So far, a total of 541 forest fires have been reported across the state with Nahan, Dharamsala and Solan being the worst affected. Even though fires have been reported from almost all districts, the problem is more endemic in pine (chir) forests.

The brief, but heavy downpour in and around the state capital here this evening brought respite from the heat with the maximum temperature hovering around 30°C for the last 10 days. However, the rain failed to douse forest fires in Dharamsala, Solan, Kasauli, Nahan and Chamba which have added to the heat wave. However, the situation is much better than the last year when 2,300 fires had been reported till May-end.

“So far, 541 cases have been reported across the state, affecting a total area of 2,072 hectares and causing a damage of Rs 49.66 lakh,” said PL Chauhan, Additional Principal Chief Conservator Forests. He said the area affected by forest fires included 1,618 natural forests and 454 hectares under various plantations.

The highest number of forest fires, affecting 407.35 hectares, have been reported from Dharamsala circle (124) while 34 fires in Solan district played havoc with forests as a total of 320 hectares were damaged. However, the situation in Nahan and suburbs is the worst as a massive area of 549.13 hectares had been affected by forest fires in pine forests.

Though Forest Minister Govind Thakur had said that if needed be, helicopters would be pressed into service to douse the fires, this would be done only if fires raged for three days continuously and was close to a habitation.

Though this time the mercury has shot up much later in the absence of rains, the pine forests have turned into infernos. “For the first time we have engaged 92 home guards who are keeping a strict vigil on spread of fire in forests,” said Ashok Chauhan, Conservator (Forest Fires Protection ) at Bilaspur.

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