New Delhi: The forest fires in Uttarakhand aren’t remotely as severe as social media posts claim, even as the incidents have affected about 81 hectares of land in the state over the last five days, causing losses worth Rs 2.19 lakh, according to the state forest department.
As of Tuesday evening, a total of 62 incidents of forest fires have been recorded in the state, Jai Raj, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Uttarakhand Forest Department, told ThePrint.
The official’s comments came as social media has been flooded with images showing forest patches in flames, falsely claimed to be from Uttarakhand.
Raj said most of the photos circulating on social media are not from Uttarakhand, and are painting an exaggerated picture. “Social media is trying to make hype out of it. The pictures being shared on social media are of crown fires – when the fire rises up the trees to the top. The photos are not from Uttarakhand,” he told ThePrint.
No crown fire has taken place in Uttarakhand this year and these photos are misleading, he added. “We only have ground fires – the bushes and grasses are burnt.”
In a statement on Facebook Wednesday, the Uttarakhand Forest Department pointed out that many of the photos were from older incidents, or other countries.
It has come to our notice that fake news of forest fire 2020 in Uttarakhand are being circulated on social media…
‘Doing our best’
According to Raj, Uttarakhand had lost more than 1,200 hectares in the massive forest fires in May last year. “Compared to that, we have not even crossed the 100-hectare mark (this year),” he said.
The officer said this May the weather was considerably favourable, which kept the fires under control. However, the rapidly rising temperatures over the last few days triggered the forest fire incidents.
“We are doing our best to control them. Our teams are there, it will take some time to douse these fires,” he said. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has also predicted that the region will receive rainfall Wednesday, which will help further control the fires, Raj added.