The forest fires raging in Uttarakhand over the last week have reduced by more than 70%, according to latest satellite images of the state. The number of areas affected by the blaze has dropped to 110 to 115 locations from the earlier figure of 427, Director of the National Disaster Response Force OP Singh said. Efforts of the combined forces battling the flames will bring down the number to 50 to 60 locations in the next few days, he told PTI.
The satellite images taken on April 29 and 30 have given hope that the fire will be contained soon, Singh said, adding that the NDRF squad of 135 personnel were also working to save animals that may be trapped in the inferno. The NDRF group is part of multiple firefighting teams working to control the massive blaze, which has destroyed some 2,269 hectares of jungles in several districts of Uttarakhand and killed at least seven so far.
NDRF teams have been deployed in affected areas in the three districts of Pauri Garhwal, Almora and Chamoli. “Our teams are working in 13 sectors in coordination with officials and personnel of the state fire and forest departments. The teams have been instructed to adopt the conventional method of cutting the fire line and containing the fire,” Singh said, adding that each team was covering an area of 8 to 10 sq km and that there were NDRF teams on standby at a camp in Ghaziabad.
Home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday told the Lok Sabha there was no need to panic as the situation was now under control. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also claimed that more than 90% of the fire had been doused, and told ANI the situation would be controlled in the next two days.