‘No forest officials for election duty’: Supreme Court’s tough stance on Uttarakhand fires | Latest News India

‘No forest officials for election duty’: Supreme Court’s tough stance on Uttarakhand fires | Latest News India
‘No forest officials for election duty’: Supreme Court’s tough stance on Uttarakhand fires | Latest News India

The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned the Uttarakhand chief secretary to appear before it on May 17 over the ‘lackadaisical’ approach shown by the Uttarakhand government in tackling fires.

NDRF personnel try to control a fire that broke out in the forest of Pauri Garhwal district on Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(PTI)

The top court directed that no state shall deploy forest officials or forest department vehicles for poll duty.

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The Supreme Court has also sought an explanation on why central funds were not used for dousing fires as out of over 9 crore disbursed by Center last year, only 3.14 crore was spent on preventing forest fires.

The chief secretary has also been asked to explain large vacancies in the forest department, lack of fire fighting equipment, and deployment of forest officials despite specific exemption granted by Election Commission.

ALSO READ: Relying on ‘rain god’ no solution: SC to Uttarakhand as forest fires rage

The bench headed by Justice BR Gavai and also comprising Justices SVN Bhatti and Sandeep Mehta, observed that although multiple action plans are prepared, no steps are taken for their implementation.

The top court’s tough stance comes in the wake of the wildfires that have hit the hill state this summer. On May 9, the head of forest force Dhananjay Mohan said that five people had lost their lives while 1,300 hectares of land were affected due to the forest fires.

“The situation of forest fire is currently under control. Forest department personnel are reaching on time at the accident spot. So far 388 cases have been registered in forest fires and 60 cases have been named,” Mohan had told news agency ANI.

Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had launched the Pirul Lao-Paise Pao Mission last week. Under this campaign, to prevent forest fires, the Pirul (leaves from the Pine Tree) lying in the forest will be collected by the local villagers and youth, weighed, and then stored at the designated Pirul Collection Centre.

On Wednesday, the chief minister said on number of people are collecting Pirul and selling it to the government at the rate of 50 per kg.”

“Its widespread effect is also being seen. At present, due to this campaign, the incidents of forest fire have reduced significantly and the villagers living near the forest area are also earning income,” Dhami added.

 
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