The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recently carried out first-of-its-kind State-level mock exercise on forest fire. The main objective of the mock exercise is to assess the efficacy of preparedness and response mechanisms available with the forest department and the district administration.
The exercise was conducted by NDMA in collaboration with the State Government. The exercise was conducted across all 13 districts covering different types of forests. Various agencies, such as fire, forest, Army, health, police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and civil defence took part in the drill.
Mock exercise on forest fire in Uttarakhand is significant as nearly 70% of the State’s geographical area comes under forests and incidents of forest fires are frequent.
NDMA so far has carried out more than 550 mock exercises across the country to improve preparedness and response mechanisms for various disaster situations.
Forest fires in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is known for human-induced forest fires since a long time. In 2016, the pine forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh caught fire. Most of the fires in Uttarakhand happen in the Chir pine (Pinus Rroxburghii) forests because leaves of this conifer tree catch fire easily. The forest fires in Uttarakhand have been predominantly intentional for the purpose of collection of forest resources such as resin, sal seeds, honey, timber etc. To collect resin easily, the surface fires are lit so that pine needles can be removed.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex Body for Disaster Management in India. It is responsible for laying down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.