Odisha: BJP demands probe into Similipal forest fire

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 12 (PTI) Opposition BJP on Friday demanded a detailed probe into the Similipal forest fire, while the Odisha government claimed that the inferno is now under control.

Leader of the Opposition P K Naik of the BJP, expressing concern over the massive forest fire, wrote in a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, 'It is a matter of serious concern that Odisha topped the list of forest fire incidents with 12,614 fire spots since February 27 as per the Forest Survey of Indias fire alert system.' Observing that Odisha witnessed the highest number of forest fires in the country since November 1 last year at 16,494, Naik said the state government's response and approach is very 'slow and ineffective'.

'Not only trees but also animals and humans living in the forests are in danger,' he said.

Naik urged the chief minister to constitute a high- level team comprising people's representatives to curb the menace.

'Please order a probe into the unusual number of forest fire incidents in the state,' he wrote.

The BJP leader also requested Patnaik to consult experts in the field from across the country so that their knowledge and experience can be used to prevent further damage.

State Forest Fire Task Force chief and former PCCF Sandeep Tripathy said the forest fire situation in Odisha is under control.

The state has received 700 fire alerts on Friday with only nine alerts in Similipal as against 1,048 alerts on Thursday, he said.

Also, several parts of the state, including Similipal, experienced rains on Thursday which prevented further spread of fires, the official said.

He said all field officials have been asked to conduct intensive night patrolling and promptly respond to fire alerts.

The leaves of forest personnel have been cancelled, fire watchers have been increased and leaf blowers doubled, he said.

Apart from forest personnel, eight ODRAF teams comprising 25 members are dousing fires in the state, the official said.

PCCF Forest Fire Cell and all DFOs are available 24/7.

The PCCF Office Fire Cell toll-free number is 1800-3457-158, he added. PTI AAM ACD ACD