In the last couple of days, Uttarakhand has witnessed deplorable visuals of forest fires amid the pandemic. It is said that about 81 hectares of land have been covered over the last six days. The state has been reported to show rising trends in the number of wildland fires, with close to 46 reported in the year 2020. Its susceptibility to wildfires is pertinent.
Nevertheless, due to the dissemination of unverified information, several social media users have shared photos and videos of the forest fires with the hashtag #PrayForUttarakhand.
However, Dr Parag Madhukar, a Conservator in Forest Department (CCF) denied the widespread coverage of the fires. He has asserted that the content that is being circulated and amplified across social networking platforms is fake. “The pictures that have been observed are taken from different places… The state has observed periodic gaps of rainfall; hence, in truth, the problem is not as grave as it is perceived,” said Dr Madhukar.
According to the Uttarakhand Forest Department, it has been discerned that the photos and even the videos have been obtained from the previous instances of forest fires some in the state and some outside the country; thereby, claiming fallacious representation, leading to an exaggeration of the issue altogether.
As per Jai Raj, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Uttarakhand Forest Department, the weather in May has been relatively conducive to keeping the fires in control. To this, he added, “We are doing our best to control them. Our teams are there; it will take some time to douse these fires.”
On Sunday, a report was released by the Uttarakhand Forest Department for a conservation program of plant species in the state. The report covers approximately 1,145 plant species, including endemic, threatened and the medicinal ones.