Odisha reported 521 jungle fires on a daily average since January

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha reported close to 24,000 forest fire incidents since January at a daily average of 521 cases of jungle inferno.

As many as 23,473 fire incidents were reported from different forests in the state since January this year. The fire incidents were mostly ground fire and not crown fire for which there had been no major loss to the flora and fauna of the jungles. However, partial damage was caused to forest areas covering 159 square kilometer area, Odisha Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha informed the assembly yesterday.

“Of the 61,204 sq km of forest areas in Odisha, about 159.93 sq km was partially affected due to the forest fire,” the minister said, adding that fire mostly burnt down dry leaves and small herbs in different jungles.

The forest department is actively working to extinguish fire in different forests, Arukha said, adding that the fire was mostly “man-made” as people living inside the forests or in its periphery set the jungle on fire to further their petty interests. The Taskforce on Forest Fire has been reviewing and monitoring the fire incidents in the jungle with coordination with the Forest Survey of India.

 “Some people set fire on jungles to make their Mahula flower (a forest produce) collection easier or for growing grass for their domestic animals. In some cases, the fire spread in forests because people burnt fire for travelling from one place to another during night and left the burning objects in the forests which led to ground fire”, the minister said.

As a precaution against forest-fire, the department had marked fire lines in different fire sectors and maintained it carefully to avoid such incidents in future.