Forest – Fires in Uttarakhand and Himachal

Enviroment

Forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have started burning in the early winter this year.

Since October 1st to November 9th, a total of 92 incidents of forest-fires have been recorded that have burnt about 133.55 ha of forest in Uttarakhand.

The agencies concerned to make estimates of loss have estimated a loss of only rupees 3.54 lakhs.

From the above estimate anyone can be in doubt that the estimation had been a formal activity. This is probably because the parameters fixed to make estimate of loss are in question.

The loss of plants one year old has been estimated on the rate of 20 rupees per plant while the nursery price of a plant is itself rupees 20. Other rates are rupees 22.40 for a two year old plant, rupees 24 for a three year old plant, rupees 28 for a four year old plant and rupees 32 for a five year old plant.

The loss of the Pine forest is estimated on the rate of rupees 3000 per ha and the loss of Sal forest is estimated at a rate of rupees 2000 per ha. The loss of mixed forest is estimated at a rate of rupees 1000 per ha.

There is no system to estimate the loss of other biodiversity including soil organism, animals and birds. Also, there is no system to estimate the loss of environment due to smoke incorporating carbon dioxide and other gases.

Forests are on fire in Himachal Pradesh also. The State’s Forest Manual 2018 has developed a formula for the estimation of the loss due to the forest fires. But it is more or less similar to that of the Uttarakhand. The manual has no parameter for the loss of biodiversity, ground water levels, ecosystems, water systems and soil systems.

The loss of plants in this state has been fixed to be equal to rupees 54 which is more than that fixed in Uttarakhand. From the above examples it appears that there is a lack of practical Scientific Standard for the determination of loss.

So far 477 incidents of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh have been recorded since April 2020. The loss of forest in 2894 ha has been estimated to be rupees 65 lakhs only.

During the previous year 1445 issues of forest fires were recorded from the Himachal Pradesh. According to the Himachal Pradesh Forest Manual 2018, a loss of one plant of one year age is estimated to be rupees 54. For the plants ranging from the age 2 year to 10 year the additional maintenance per year per plant is added. If a big tree is burnt completely, its cost is determined on the basis of its type and market value.

The Government modifies these rates annually. The estimation of environment and wild life is done on the basis of the National Cost in an area per ha.

The estimation report of the forest loss is prepared by rangers. The loss of forest within an area of 5 ha is estimated by the District Forest Officer. The loss of forest per 10 ha is estimated by the Vanpal. The report of loss due to forest fire is prepared by Vanrakshak of the concerned beat. Thousands of hectares of greenery of Himachal Pradesh is lost every year.

It has been reported that India has a forest cover of 8lakh 07thousand 276 sq.Km which is 24.56% of the total geographic area. Maximum forest area falls in M.P. (77,482 sq.Km). Arunachal Pradesh falls on the second and Chattisgrh falls on the 3rd place.

Warning of Forest Fires in other areas of India are also there. 2723 from M.P., 2516 from Maharashtra 2213 from Orrisa, 1008 cases from Chattisgarh are on the record.

According to the Status of Forest Report in India 2019 most fires have been recorded from 21.4% forests.

The studies of last 13 years have pointed out 2 lakh 77 thousand 758 points of fire in the country.

An area of 3.89% for the total forest cover has been identified as highest fire zone.

29,547 warnings based on imaging technology have been issued since Nov 2018 to June 2019.

2795 warnings were issued for Mizoram alone. Maximum issues of forest fires were observed in the seven states of the North East.

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