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Business News/ News / India/  ‘You showed us a rosy picture when…’: SC raps Centre, state govt over Uttarakhand forest fires
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‘You showed us a rosy picture when…’: SC raps Centre, state govt over Uttarakhand forest fires

The Supreme Court has been hearing pleas on forest fires in Uttarakhand since early May. According to the petitions, at least 910 incidents have occurred in the state.

Several regions in Uttarakhand are grappling with forest fires, and a large area of forest land is already distroyed. (File Photo)Premium
Several regions in Uttarakhand are grappling with forest fires, and a large area of forest land is already distroyed. (File Photo)

Uttarakhand Forest Fires: The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday criticised the Uttarakhand government for insufficient funds and assigning state forest officials Lok Sabha Election 2024 duties amid the ongoing forest fire situation in the state. The hilly state has been grappling with hundreds of active wildfires since November last year, and approximately 1,145 hectares of forest land have already been destroyed.

The Supreme Court has been hearing pleas on forest fires in Uttarakhand since early May. According to the petitions, at least 910 incidents have occurred in the state. 

According to an NDTV report, the apex court also criticised the central government as Uttarakhand was granted only 3.15 crore to deal with the forest fires against a demand of 10 crore. 

The Supreme Court also asked the Centre why forest department officials in Uttarakhand had been assigned Lok Sabha election duties. 

“Why have adequate funds not been given? Why have you put forest employees on poll duty amid fires?" NDTV quoted the SC bench as saying. “You showed us a rosy picture when things were worse," the Bench added.

The apex court has asked the Uttarakhand chief secretary to appear before it on May 17 over the state government's ‘lackadaisical’ approach to tackling fires.

The chief secretary was directed to explain the large vacancies in the forest department, the lack of firefighting equipment, and the deployment of forest officials despite the specific exemption granted by the Election Commission.

On May 8, the Supreme Court had asked the Uttarakhand government to take preventative steps to control the forest fires instead of depending on ‘rain gods’ or cloud seeding.  

Uttarakhand's five Lok Sabha seats voted in the first phase on April 19.

At least five people have died in the Uttarakhand forest fires. Four people were arrested for allegedly setting fire to the Gangolihat range forest in Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district. The accused have been identified as Piyush Singh, Ayush Singh, Rahul Singh, and Ankit.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami's ‘Pirul Lao-Paise Pao’ campaign gained momentum, as villagers participated in the initiative and collected 'Pirul' in Dehradun on Wednesday.

Chief Minister launched the Pirul Lao-Paise Pao Mission in the Rudraprayag district on May 8, in light of the forest fire situations across the state.

Earlier in May, forest fires reached dangerously close to a residential area in Uttarakhand's Nainital. Boating was temporarily halted in the Himalayan resort town, and Indian Air Force helicopters and army personnel were pressed into service for firefighting operations.

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Published: 15 May 2024, 02:39 PM IST
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