Rajnath Singh reviews U’Khand forest fire situation

New Delhi : Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday reviewed the Uttarakhand forest fire situation during his meeting with the state’s Chief Secretary and concerned officers in his ministry.

Singh has instructed his ministry officials to closely monitor the situation and provide all assistance in controlling the fire.

The Home Minister had a telephonic conversation with Uttarakhand Governor K.K. Paul yesterday and assured him of providing all necessary assistance to control the fire.

Meanwhile, an 11-member Air Force team that pitched in with the ongoing fire-fighting operations in Uttarakhand’s Bhimtal and Pauri were foiled by thick smoke this morning.

Asserting the government’s priority at this point of time is to douse the fire which has blazed about thousands of hectares in Uttarakhand, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar earlier said that around 6,000 people have been deployed for fire fighting operations in the region.

Javadekar also said that the Centre had already granted Rs. five crore yesterday and would regularize it up to expenditure utilisation immediately.

A seven-member crew of MI-17 chopper, headed by Wing Commander VK Singh, began the sortie in Nainital district. Forces are collecting water in ‘bambi buckets’ from the Bhimtal lake to be sprinkled over the worst affected areas — Kilbury, Nalenda, Almakhna in Nainital.

The fire raged yesterday even as three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in Almora, Gauchar and Pauri and one team of the State Disaster Response Fund in Nainital to extinguish the flames.

The Governor has directed all District Magistrates of the affected districts to make full use of available resources to douse the fire.

The Nainital High Court has also expressed concern and directed that the fire should be controlled in the shortest possible time. (ANI)