Forest fire: Mi-17 helicopters to put off blaze in Uttarakhand

The Centre has deployed two Mi-17 helicopters to douse the forest blaze in Uttarakhand. More than 1,900 hectares of forest land have been affected by the fire in the Kumaoun and Garwal region.

“Two helicopters were sent by the Indian Air Force. One has been sent in Gorakhal Sainik School and another one in Pouri, Srinagar. The speciality of the helicopter is it can take 5,000 litre of water from any source of water, be it pond or river and can drop it anywhere,” Wing Commander VK Singh, operation in-charge, Airforce

With major fires blighting around 1,900 hectares of forests in Uttarakhand, the government deployed two Mi-17 helicopters  as NDRF, SDRF and Army personnel struggled to douse the flames which have claimed six lives till now.

A total of 1890.79 hectares of green cover in the Kumaoun and Garwal region have been destroyed this fire season which had an early start on 2 February due to a dry winter.

Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital are the worst-affected districts.

While three NDRF teams and one SDRF company are busy dousing the flames in different parts of the state, two IAF choppers have been sent to Nainital and Pauri districts, among the worst hit, to spray water over the burning jungles, Raj Bhawan officials in Dehradun said.

Enough funds have been made available to all affected districts besides required personnel and equipment to deal with any situation, they said.

“One MI-17 chopper has been stationed at Bhimtal near Nainital right which is being loaded with water collected from the waterbodies in the area and begin spraying water over affected areas from tomorrow,” Chief Secretary Shatrughna Singh said.

Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire extinguishing efforts.

Pradesh Congress president Kishore Upadhyay also wrote to party workers asking them to work unitedly to pull the state out of the crisis.

Meanwhile, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is rushing Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) refullers to replenish IAF choppers deployed to douse the massive fire in Uttarakhand.

“Spoke to Governor Uttarakhand; IOC rushing ATF refuellers to reach Haldwani & Srinagar by morning for firefighting by airforce helicopters,” he tweeted.

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