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Posted at: Apr 19, 2016, 12:38 AM; last updated: Apr 19, 2016, 12:38 AM (IST)

Forest fires threaten tiger reserves

Forest fires threaten tiger reserves
Workers of the forest department try to douse flames in a forest. Tribune photo

Jotirmay Thapliyal

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, April 18

Forest fires have affected hundreds of acres of Corbett Tiger Reserve and Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

Since mid-February, there have been 236 incidents of forest fires in Uttarakhand, affecting 485.28 hectares of forest area. Of these, 20 have occurred in wildlife zones and affected 128.35 hectares of wildlife habitat.

Corbett’s porous southern boundary, that shares borders with Uttar Pradesh, has been most prone to forest fires. A stretch of 80 sq km of the sanctuary is most vulnerable. The state does not have enough budget to tackle the fires, says Satish Chand Upadhyay, a former Corbett warden who retired a year ago. “Uttarakhand has an undulated terrain and huge manpower is needed to deal with forest fires, which we do not have,” he says.

Uttarakhand Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Panning and Finance) Jairaj says an amount of Rs 1.13 crore has been provided to tackle forest fires and a proposal for Rs 2.51 crore is expected to be approved shortly.

Chief Conservator of Forests BP Gupta said a total of 8,477 km of fire lines, which worked as fire-brakes, had already been cleared of vegetation. He said as forest fires were mostly man-made, the department had held 3,000 meetings up to the village level to spread awareness among the people with the help of banners, posters, handbills and stickers.

Senior WWF official AK Singh said the forest fires were a threat to wildlife. He said there had been incidents when tiger cubs and calf elephants had died.

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