Dehradun, 23 Feb (UNI) The forest department in Uttaranchal has announced a red alert, anticipating more forest fires due to the dry spell this year, said Veena Shekhri, Chief Forest Conservator, Garhwal Region.
Ms Shekhri said the department was ready for any kind of emergency. The control rooms in divisions, ranges and crew stations had been issued directives to be more alert and increase their patrolling frequencies.
''As prevention is the most effective way of controlling forest fires, more emphasis is being given to it, along with readiness of effective communication system,'' she said, adding that the sighting of forest fire in the hilly areas was not a problem but reaching the spot was.
In a bid to minimise instances of forest fires, fire lines are being cleared and meetings being held in sensitive areas involving villagers.
Last year, there were 403 fire incidents in Garhwal region alone and total area affected by fire was 1486.40 hectare with a total loss of Rs 4,80,012.
Ms Shekhri said that the department was exerting pressure on the Centre to recognise forest fire as a natural calamity.
She added that shortage of manpower was the biggest problem.
However, locals were being employed to meet the manpower requirements under departments financial resources.
UNI/LPT SHB PM1652