Chamarajanagara/Mysuru/Mandya, Feb 25 : Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers have been pressed into service for water bombing to contain the devastating fire that continue to ravage since last five days at Bandipur National Park, Tiger Reserve and other parts of the region.
The Air Force choppers are conducting survey of the area affected and water bombing may take place by lifting water from the reservoir nearby. The choppers, which did a reconnaissance and location survey on Monday, flew repeatedly around the Gopalswamy Betta range and were in constant communication with the forest department officials on the ground through their network.
Karnataka Minister for Forest Satish Jarkiholi, who is monitoring the situation from the hill top in Bandipur, said that the choppers will do repeat sorties and water bomb the affected areas to contain the fire. “The Nugu reservoir, which is only 30 km from Bandipur and the adjoining Kabini backwaters, will be the source to air lift water in buckets and water bomb the area smouldering with fire.”
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Jayaram said he was in touch with the meteorological department, which said that the wind speed is expected to reduce by Wednesday. “The normal wind speed in these areas tend to be around 5 km per hour but since the last few days it was extremely windy with speed in the range of 15 km per hour which was stoking fire in new places,” he added.
More than 200 firefighters are operating at Bandipur to extinguish the fire. We are gathering information every second. Ninety per cent of the wildfire has been extinguished successfully. We are still not able to completely extinguish the fire due to air intensity, he added.
Meanwhile several hectares of forest were destroyed in a fire at Karighatta reserve forest and K. Shettihalli reserve forest near Srirangapatna, and at Belli Betta Kaval forest range near K.R. Pet in Mandya district
The devastating fire has engulfed several hectares of dry vegetation in these forest ranges, said sources in the Forest Department. Hundreds of trees, bird nests, and dry vegetation have been gutted near Allapatna, Chinnanayakanahalli, Karighatta and K. Shettihalli near Srirangapatna, and at Belli Betta Kaval near K.R. Pet, said sources.
According to a forest officer, some miscreants from nearby villages may have lit the fire. The Forest Department plans to conduct an investigation. The fire damage is yet to be ascertained.
The fire brigade is going all out to put out the fire that is threatening to damage further. “The fire broke out at 17 places on the same day in Mysuru District,” Mysuru District DFO Gururaju said on Monday.
Speaking to the media, he said that fire erupted at Periyapattana, KR Nagar and in many areas of Nanjangud. The temperature is rising day by day owing to the unprecedented fire. “Our firefighters are operating 24×7 at affected areas. They have also been deployed at the famous Chamundi Hills as a precautionary measure. We are in constant touch with the Forest Department officials there,” he said.
“Around 12 to 17 fire brigade vehicles from Mysuru District are involved in the fire extinguishing operation at Bandipur. Though the extinguishing operation is on, the fire appears at some places may be due to air intensity. We have sent five vehicles from the Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary, 12 vehicles are operating from Chamarajanagar division and along with the Bandipur authorities, fire extinguishing operation is carried out at Gopalaswamy Hills and other areas to control the raging fire,” he said.
Meanwhile, District In-charge Minister G T Devegowda has said that he is shocked by the Bandipur wildfire. The minister said that the forest department is working tirelessly to extinguish the fire and said all steps will be been taken to bring an end to the menace. He said that action will be taken to avoid any harm to animals and nature and said Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has instructed for all necessary actions.
In the meantime Titular head of the Mysuru royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar has expressed his sadness over the raging fire at Bandipur forest and in other adjacent areas.
Taking to social media, he requested the people to help in extinguishing the fire and protect precious wildlife and forest.
He requested the public to supply water bottles, glucose and medicines. (UNI)