In a bid to check the forest fire several precautionary measures have been initiated informed Deputy Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve, Jagyandatta Pati.

The forest department of Mayurbhanj district is geared up to combat forest fire, said officials. At least seven ranges within Baripada, Karanjia and Rairangpur territorial divisions of Similipal Tiger Reserve(STR) and its peripheries are prone to such fires as very often people who go to forests to collect Mahua flower burn the dry leaves to make it easier to collect the flowers.

DD Pati said the STR has seven ranges under the three forest division and one STR core where the department has engaged at least 10 fire squads, 10 Fire Watchers and 53 higher- power air blowers, vehicles and safety equipments.

He said according to the report of Forest Survey of India at least 4,653 fire points have apparently reported in Odisha of which 6 points are in Similipal forest area sighted by MODIS and SNPP censor thorough NASA Satellite.

He said the dedicated Whats-App groups, registered mobile text messages and email have been put in place for real-time reporting of forest fire.

The forest department is organizing awareness camps in different villages to educate people, residing near forest on measures and need to avert risk of forest fire.

“We are asking villagers to immediately alert forest officials if they see any fire in the forest. We are advising them not to light fire in forest and alerting them against the harm such fires cause to wildlife and nature” said Pati.

Due to forest fire, pachyderms and other animals may stray into villages. He said there has been a remarkable increase in forest cover in the district due to systematic management and implementation of Forest Conservation Act.

What is more heartening is the fact that green cover in Very Dense Forest (VDF) category, which is on a decline across the State, has increased by 10 sq km in the district. Pati said forest cover has increased by more than 42 sq km as per the latest Indian State of Forest Report-2017.

The Very Dense Forest (VDF) category has increased from 1,325 sq km in 2015 to 1,335 sq km in 2017. Similarly, Moderate Dense Forest (MDF) has increased by 10 sq km from 1,708 sq km in 2015 and to 1,718 sq km in 2017.

Open Forest (OF) has increased from 1,005 sq km in 2015 to 1,027 sq km in 2017, he informed.