Odisha had registered a sudden jump in forest fires across the State resulting in massive damage to flora and fauna.
As many as 5,332 fire spots had been noticed since November 1 last, the beginning of forest fire season, in the State. The month of March had alone registered 4,495 fire spots.
As per statistics generated by SNPP (Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership) satellite, only 385 fire spots were recorded February while in January, only 55 fire incidences were detected.
Southern Odisha looked red in the map provided by Forest Fire Geo Portal of Forest Survey. In Koraput, the southernmost forest circle in Odisha, 2,809 fire spots had been detected since November. It was followed by Bhawanipatna with 622 fire incidences and Berhampur (601). Rourkela and Sambalpur division had relatively lower incidences with 416 and 355 fire spots detected during the same period.
The month of April started with 11 fires on Monday as detected by Moderate resolution Imaging spectro-radiometer (MODIS) with a resolution of 1 km.
Forest divisions mapped
Though forest department claimed to have mapped the forest divisions prone to fire and maintained more than 6,000-km long fire line in different forests ahead of the fire season, forests continue to be gutted. Given the vastness of forest areas and gigantic task, number of fire watchers engaged in fire-fighting appears to be too little.
“Apart from causing a huge loss to the timber and other fruit and leaf bearing trees and creepers of the forest, fires also destroy wildlife and their habitat. Nests and eggs of ground dwelling birds are lost. Reptiles also lose their young ones due to forest fires,” said Biswajit Mohanty, former member of the National Board for Wildlife.
Fire could only be tamed at the initial stage before it became a conflagration preventing anybody from even approaching it due to the intense heat generated, Mr. Mohanty said demanding it should be monitored from the office of Principal Chief Conservator of Forest.