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Last updated Wednesday, May 09, 2012

   
Summer heat and ground fire put forest and wildlife at risk in Odisha  

"The heat of the scorching Sun added with ground fire in different forests of Odisha have made the forests unfit for the wildlife because the water sources have gone dry. This is the reason why wildlife is more often risking by venturing into human habitations for food and water. On Tuesday, 8 May 2012, an elephant calf fell in a dried up well while in search of water in Bolangir's Agalpur. The calf was rescued by combined efforts of villagers and forest department people. Another elephant died of heatstroke in Odisha's Kamaksha Nagar of Denkanal district on April 27, 2012."

Basudev Mahapatra

with inputs from Sujata Mahapatra

 

The forests of Odisha that are already in danger due to deforestation and development works are now experiencing the wrath of heat, fire and increasing temperature.

The heat of the scorching Sun added with ground fire in different forests have made the forests unfit for the wildlife because the water sources have gone dry. This is the reason why wildlife is more often risking by venturing into human habitations for food and water.

On Tuesday, 8 May 2012, an elephant calf fell in a dried up well while in search of water in Bolangir's Agalpur. The calf was rescued by combined efforts of villagers and forest department people. Another elephant died of heatstroke in Kamaksha Nagar of Denkanal district on April 27, 2012. It seems, increasing temperature and water scarcity in the forests have put the wildlife at a bigger risk.

However, the Forest department is taking remedial steps, says P. N. Padhi, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) of Odisha while mentioning that, ‘water scarcity is there, it’s a fact. Wildlife sometimes are also facing water stress. In that situation, we have put emphasis on creation of water bodies. Last year we have already created 800 numbers of water bodies and this year we have the programme to create around 1000 water bodies’.

The cases of fire in the forests have also increased this year. Because of dry spell that continued for a longer period this year, the cases of forest fire have gone up to more than 2700 this year against about 700 last year, confirms the PCCF. This has not only increased temperature in the forests but put the whole green belt at a further risk.

Looking at the increasing cases of fire in the forests, the Forest department is trying to control it by involving the communities living in the forest villages and by taking other measures that would at least stop fire from spreading. ‘To control the fire, department has facilitated involvement of village communities and Van Suraksha samitis (VSS), involvement of fire fighting squads and arranging their mobility, construction of watchtowers. We have also developed a system of constructing fire lines. Every division is constructing around 100-500 KM of fire line depending upon the fire incidents and magnitude of the division’, says Padhi who believes that such fire line, which is a 10-20 meter wide cleaned strip running in the forests, will stop fire from spreading in the forest.

Whatever steps are planned so far must be taken immediately because the situation of forests this year has already gone critical even in the beginning of summer. The situation in the forests would go further critical if the cases of fire continue in the forests throughout the summer season this year.

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