The Uttarakhand government has decided to double the number of personnel engaged in dousing wild fires in different parts of the state from 3000 to 6000.
Governor KK Paul took the decision late on Thursday evening while addressing problems of forest fires and drought in the state at an Advisory Council meeting.
In every district, 100 PRD personnel will be posted for the safety of revenue forests. This number may be increased later, an official release Dehradun said.
It was decided that Rs. 5 crore would be released for buying fire control equipment from SDRF.
Tankers will be sent to provide water in wildlife parks and DMs have been instructed to arrange for extra tankers according to the requirement in their respective districts.
All officials concerned have been directed to work under an action plan on a war footing to deal with forest fires and drought conditions.
For immediate relief, tankers should be arranged and on a long term basis, traditional water sources should be revived and preserved, it was directed.
The Governor said all directions given till now about forest fires must be followed strictly.
All Van panchayats, mahila mangal dals, self help groups and yuvak mangal dals must be active and support the efforts to check forest fires.
Police and homeguard personnel have already been activated.
Commandant of SDRF has been asked to provide help to DMs. DMs have been told to monitor the situation on a daily basis. The governor will review the work on a weekly basis. The first review will be on April 30 through videoconferencing.
The DMs have been instructed that they should immediately provide the compensation amount to families affected by the forest fires.
It was also decided that other departments should also work in coordination with each other to check forest fires. A strict watch be kept on elements who are involved in illegal felling in forests.
Van panchayats and home guards can help in doing this, the Governor said.
Any negligence in following the directions given for checking forest fires and for providing potable water will not be allowed, he said.
People would have to be made aware of the perils of burning garbage near forests, throwing burning cigarette stubs into them, and burning trees for clearing land which usually lead to the fires, he said.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Harish Rawat asked the Governor to declare the state as fire disaster stricken.
He asked the Governor to take steps like constitution of disaster management and fire extinguishing teams, allocation of different forest beats to them, involving the local population in the exercise by offering them insurance coverage and making them eligible for compensation in case of an accident.
Noting that Uttarakhand's forests will not be able to overcome ill-effects of the fires if they continue unabated like this, Rawat said even water bodies are being polluted due to the fires which will endanger the wildlife dependent on them.
Pradesh Congress President Kishore Upadhyay wrote to party workers, asking them unite to save the state's precious forest wealth.
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