Fire rages in Odisha's Simlipal Forest Reserve for 10 days, officials fail to contain its spread

Odisha's 2,750 km Similipal Forest Reserve is home to 304 species of birds and 55 species of animals, including the endangered Bengal tiger.

For the past 10 days, Odisha’s Simpilal Forest Reserve in the Mayurbhanj district has been engulfed in flames. The area is India’s largest and Asia’s second-largest largest biosphere reserve. The fire is believed to have started on the Jualikata-Talpada road, and spread to the reserve owing to heavy winds. The reason for the fire is still unknown.

According to IANS reports, the Odisha forest department has been unable to contain the spread of the fire to the 2,750 km reserve, which is home to 304 species of birds, 62 species of reptiles, 37 species of fish, and 55 species of animals, including the endangered Bengal tiger. Department officials have created squads for each of the 21 ranges to contain the fire.

As per some reports, five people have also been critically injured in the fire.

"The jungle is burning, and we are helpless. Many medicinal plants have been reduced to ashes. Many wildlife species, including endangered and scarce ones, have perished in the wildfire," one of the locals told The Logical Indian.  The migration of animals, desperately seeking safe ground, has made them vulnerable to illegal poachers.

As many as 1,000 people, including forest officials, locals, and volunteers are engaged in disconnecting the fire line to stop the spread of fire to newer areas, a state government official said, adding that 40 vehicles and 240 blowers are being used to douse the fire.

Several concerned netizens and activists have shared graphic images of the fires, seeking assistance from the government.

Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar took cognisance of the fire that has been raging for 10 days on Tuesday, March 2. He tweeted that he had ordered officials to take immediate action and report to him.

UNESCO had added the national park to its list of Biosphere Reserves back in 2009.

This is the second big forest fire in India in 2021. In January, a forest fire in the Dzukou range in Nagaland was brought under control with the help of the Indian Air Force helicopters, police, forest department, and local volunteers.

Edited by Suman Singh


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