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Cloud seeding, rain gods not the solution, SC on Uttarakhand forest fires

The state government informed the court that 398 fires, all man-made, had been reported from November till today with the death toll at five.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: May 8, 2024, 08:43 AM - 4 mins read

The state government informed the court that 398 fires, all man-made, had been reported from November till today with the death toll at five.

Cloud seeding, rain gods not the solution, SC on Uttarakhand forest fires

A total of 350 criminal cases had been lodged in connection with the forest fires, 62 people have been named in the cases, the Supreme Court was informed by the Deputy Advocate General of Uttarakhand .Jatinder Kumar Sethi. Seen here, forest fires raging in the Kumaon area of Uttarakhand.


Even as Uttarakhand is batting raging forest fires with the state government reporting 398 fires, all man-made, from November till today and the death toll at five, the Supreme Court has said cloud seeding or "depending on rain gods" is not the answer. 


The authorities will have to take preventive measures to tackle the problem, it said.

 

About 0.1 per cent of wildlife cover in Uttarakhand was on fire, Deputy Advocate General of Uttarakhand Jatinder Kumar Sethi told the Supreme Court Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta on Wednesday, a PTI report said.

 

The court was told that all the 398 fires were man-made. A total of 350 criminal cases had been lodged in connection with the forest fires, Sethi said, adding that 62 people have been named in the cases.

 

<Also read: https://newsarenaindia.com/states/woman-65-dies-as-forest-fire-spreads-to-uttarakhand-village-rain-likely-tomorrow/10366>

 

"People say that 40 per cent of Uttarakhand is on fire, whereas 0.1 per cent of the wildlife cover was on fire," the counsel said.

 

The court was hearing an application that has raised the issue of raging forest fires in Uttarakhand.


During the hearing, the Bench told the state's counsel, "Cloud seeding or depending on the rain god is not the answer. He (applicant) is right in saying that you have to take preventive measures." 

 

<Also read: https://newsarenaindia.com/nation/3-labourers-killed-in-forest-fires-in-almora-smog-engulfs-nainital-haldwani/10163>


The state government placed before the bench an interim status report containing details of the various steps taken by authorities to deal with forest fires.
Sethi said Indian Air Force helicopters had been called in to put out the fires.

 

When the Bench asked how many human lives had been lost, the counsel said the toll was five.

 

On being asked about the number of animals that had perished, the counsel said he would get the information and inform the court.

 

A lawyer, who has filed an application for impleadment in the matter, told the Bench that the state was painting a "very rosy picture," but media reports had said the entire machinery involved in tackling forest fires was busy with election-related work.


"The state of affairs is pathetic. People who go to douse the fires do not even have proper equipment," he said.

 

Another counsel appearing in the matter said entire forests were covered with pine trees and that was the reason behind forest fires.

 

"The British may have introduced them but now their produce is being used by the country. We cannot eliminate those trees. And they cannot grow in the lower reaches," the Bench observed, adding that no one is disputing that forest fires are a "serious problem".

 

It also referred to a recent news report on the possibility of rain in Uttarakhand.

 

 

The state's counsel said forest fires do not just occur in Uttarakhand but were being reported from across the world.

 

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on May 15.

 

While hearing a petition on forest fires in 2019, the apex court had observed that such incidents posed a serious problem in hill states, especially during summer, and the reason was the presence of a large number of pine trees, which were highly flammable.


It was hearing a plea moved by advocate Rituparn Uniyal seeking urgent steps to protect forests, wildlife and birds from wildfires in Uttarakhand, saying the number of such blazes has increased over the years, causing massive damage to the environment.

 

The petition has sought directions to the Centre, the Uttarakhand government and the principal chief conservator of forests in the hill state for making pre-fire arrangements and framing a policy to prevent such incidents.

 

"Forest fires in Uttarakhand have been a regular and historic feature. Every year, forest fires in Uttarakhand cause great loss to the forest ecosystem, diversity of flora and fauna and economic wealth. Forest fire is one of the major disasters in the forests of Uttarakhand," the plea has said.

 

It has added that forests and wildlife are the most important natural resources and play a significant role in human life and environment.

 

"Forests are socially and environmentally interlinked with the people in the hilly areas, and play an important role in the economic welfare and development of the region," it has said. 

 

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