At least two people were arrested on Monday on the charge of setting fire in Jodibill Reserve Forest near Similipal National Park in Odisha, reported PTI. The fire began early in March and has so far claimed one life.
Sandeep Tripathy, the chief of forest fire task force, said the Odisha government was making all out efforts to contain the fire and to keep it under control. “All field staff have been directed to be on full alert and be on vigil to mitigate the fire situation,” Tripathy said. “They will be joined by fire squads and other staff of the forest division, the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, fire department staff in association with panchayati raj institutions, self help groups, Vana Surakhya Samiti and local communities.”
The task force chief said the prevailing high temperature and low humidity conditions were helping the fire to spread despite sporadic rains. However, Tripathy said, the fire could be controlled as the meteorological office has forecast rain in the next 3-4 days in some parts of the state.
He pointed out that the large forest fires, especially those in hotter and vulnerable areas, were being dealt with on a priority basis. “The field staff are on full alert and vigil to prevent any spread or new occurrence,” Tripathy said. He added that the fire situation was continuously being monitored and reviewed at different levels to keep it under control.
On Sunday, a 58-year-old contractual guard was caught in a whirlwind and was burned to death while trying to douse the fire in the Jodibill Reserve Forest.
On March 5, Union minister Prakash Javadekar had said that the fire had been brought under control. However, unidentified officials had told NDTV that the problem was far from over because of rising temperatures.
Earlier in that week, several environment activists tweeted images and videos of the fire, raising concerns over the destruction of endangered flora and fauna. Conservationists working in Similipal had said that several orchids and medicinal plants may have also been burnt by the fire.