Road conditions - Uttarakhand

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Is there any checking of covid reports at Kotdwar, Uttrakhand entry

Yes. on all borders in Uttarakhand.
 

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Explained: Why forest fires break out in the spring, and why they have been so frequent this year

Since the start of 2021, there has been a series of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including in wildlife sanctuaries.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune |

Updated: April 5, 2021 7:33:12 am

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Similipal forest fire broke out last month.(Express photo by Aishwarya Mohanty)

Uttarakhand has witnessed over 1,000 incidents of forest fire over the last six months, including 45 in the last 24 hours alone, and has reached out to the Centre for helicopters and personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). At least five persons and seven animals have been reported killed.
Since the start of 2021, there has been a series of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including in wildlife sanctuaries. April-May is the season when forest fires take place in various parts of the country. But forest fires have been more frequent than usual in Uttarakhand and have also taken place during winter; dry soil caused by a weak monsoon is being seen as one of the causes.

Where have forest fires happened?
January saw prolonged fires in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh (Kullu Valley) and Nagaland-Manipur border (Dzukou Valley). The ongoing one in Nainital began in March-end. The Simlipal National Park in Odisha saw a major fire between February-end and early March.
Recent fires include those in Bandhavgarh Forest Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, and in sanctuaries for the Asiatic lion and the great Indian bustard in Gujarat.

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Source: ISFR 2019How prone to fire are India’s forests?


As of 2019, about 21.67% (7,12,249 sq km) of the country’s geographical area is identified as forest, according to the India State of Forest Report 2019 (ISFR) released by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun. Tree cover makes up another 2.89% (95, 027 sq km).
Based on previous fire incidents and recorded events, forests of the Northeast and central India regions are the most vulnerable areas to forest fires, the FSI has said. Forests in Assam, Mizoram and Tripura have been identified as ‘extremely prone’ to forest fire. States with large forest areas under the ‘very highly prone’ category include Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Western Maharashtra, Southern Chhattisgarh and areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, along with central Odisha, are turning into ‘extremely prone’ forest fire hotspots, the 2020-2021 annual report of the MoEFCC said.
Areas under the ‘highly prone’ and ‘moderately prone’ categories make up about 26.2% of the total forest cover — a whopping 1,72,374 sq km.


How vulnerable are forests in Uttarakhand?
Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are the two states that witness the most frequent forest fires annually. In Uttarkhand, 24,303 sq km (over 45 per cent of the geographical area) is under forest cover.
The FSI has identified forests along the south, west and southwest regions of Uttarakhand — comprising Dehradun, Hardwar, Garhwal, Almora, Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar, Champawat districts — as being prone to varying intensities of forest fires.


What causes forest fires?
Forest fires can be caused by a number of natural causes, but officials say many major fires in India are triggered mainly by human activities. Emerging studies link climate change to rising instances of fires globally, especially the massive fires of the Amazon forests in Brazil and in Australia in the last two years. Fires of longer duration, increasing intensity, higher frequency and highly inflammable nature are all being linked to climate change.
In India, forest fires are most commonly reported during March and April, when the ground has large quantities of dry wood, logs, dead leaves, stumps, dry grass and weeds that can make forests easily go up in flames if there is a trigger. Under natural circumstances, extreme heat and dryness, friction created by rubbing of branches with each other also have been known to initiate fire.
In Uttarakhand, the lack of soil moisture too is being seen as a key factor. In two consecutive monsoon seasons (2019 and 2020), rainfall has been deficient by 18% and 20% of the seasonal average, respectively.
But, forest officials say most fires are man-made, sometimes even deliberately caused. Even a small spark from a cigarette butt, or a carelessly discarded lit matchstick can set the fire going. For example, in Odisha, which saw a major fire last month in Simlipal forest, villagers are known to set dry leaves to fire in order to collect mahua flowers, which go into preparation of a local drink.
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The fire at Simlipal on March 3 (Twitter/@TheGreatAshB)


Why are forest fires difficult to control?
The locality of the forest and access to it pose hurdles in initiating firefighting efforts. During peak season, shortage of staff is another challenge in dispatching firefighting teams.
Timely mobilisation of forest staff, fuel and equipment, depending on the type of fire, through the thick forests remain challenges.
As it is impossible to transport heavy vehicles loaded with water into the thick forests, a majority of fire dousing is initiated manually, using blowers and similar devices. But there have been incidents when forest fires were brought under control using helicopter services.
Wind speed and direction play a critical role in bringing a forest fire under control. The fire often spreads in the direction of the winds and towards higher elevations.


What factors make forest fires a concern?
Forests play an important role in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. They act as a sink, reservoir and source of carbon. A healthy forest stores and sequesters more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem. In India, with 1.70 lakh villages in close proximity to forests (Census 2011), the livelihood of several crores of people is dependent on fuelwood, bamboo, fodder, and small timber.
Forest fires can have multiple adverse effects on the forest cover, soil, tree growth, vegetation, and the overall flora and fauna. Fires render several hectares of forest useless and leave behind ash, making it unfit for any vegetation growth.
Heat generated during the fire destroys animal habitats. Soil quality decreases with the alteration in their compositions. Soil moisture and fertility, too, is affected. Thus forests can shrink in size. The trees that survive fire often remain stunted and growth is severely affected.


What efforts are being taken to protect forests from fire?
Since 2004, the FSI developed the Forest Fire Alert System to monitor forest fires in real time. In its advanced version launched in January 2019, the system now uses satellite information gathered from NASA and ISRO.


Real-time fire information from identified fire hotspots is gathered using MODIS sensors (1km by 1km grid) and electronically transmitted to FSI. This information is then relayed via email at state, district, circle, division, range, beat levels. Users of this system in the locality are issued SMS alerts. The FSI system in January 2019 had over 66,000 users.


Explained: Why forest fires break out in the spring, and why they have been so frequent this year

Explained |Why forest fires break out in the spring, and why they have been so frequent this year
 

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Explained: Why is this season’s forest fires in Uttarakhand worrisome?

Uttarakhand has around 38,000 square km of forests, which is almost 71 per cent of its geographical area. Since its formation as a separate state in the year 2000, forest fires have affected over 48,000 hectares.


Written by Lalmani Verma , Edited by Explained Desk |
Updated: April 7, 2021 7:06:41 am



Officials admit that the situation is alarming because the peak time for forest fire -- the third week of May when temperature is highest - is yet to come.
In just five days of April, Uttarakhand has recorded 361 incidents of forest fire that have damaged 567 hectares, including 380 hectares of reserve forest areas. As forest fires rage in different parts of state, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat sought help from Union Home Minister Amit Shah following which the Centre has provided two MI-17 helicopters for fire-fighting — one each deployed in Kumaon and Garhwal regions. Since 2010, 14 human deaths have occurred in forest fires in the state.
Among the four who died this year, two were forest personnel. Seven districts in the state — Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Dehradun, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Nainital and Almora — are most vulnerable to forest fires. Over 12,000 forest personnel have been deployed in fire-fighting operations across the state.
Uttarakhand has around 38,000 square km of forests, which is almost 71 per cent of its geographical area. Since its formation as a separate state in the year 2000, forest fires have affected over 48,000 hectares.

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Why is the current situation worrisome?
Every year forest fires begin in Uttarakhand in mid-February, which is the onset of spring when the trees shed dry leaves and the soil loses moisture due to a rise in temperature. This ‘forest fire season’ continues usually till mid-June in the summer. In hilly areas, the surface gets drier faster than plains due to lower accumulation of rainwater.
According to experts, three factors cause spread of forest fire — fuel load, oxygen and temperature. Dry leaves are fuel for forest fires and its quantity this time is more than past years.
Source: ISFR 2019
According to an official, due to lockdown there was very less human movement and field activity in the forest fire season like every year when inflammable leaves and woods are collected in forest areas near human habitats. Dry leaves shed from trees in spring remained at the ground and the fuel load increased due to the same natural phenomenon in the year.



Following less rain in monsoon and almost nil rain in winters dried the soil and earth surface lost the moisture early this time. Atmospheric temperature in March and April is also soaring in comparison to previous year. Strong wind velocity is spreading fire very fast in jungles. Among these factors, the forest department can control only fuel load by controlled burning.
Officials admit that the situation is alarming because the peak time for forest fire — the third week of May when temperature is highest – is yet to come.
This year, however, forest fires have started from April first week. More than 1100 incidents of forest fire have so far occurred in the current fire season, which started in October, 2020. with almost 50 per cent in March and April first week only.


What had happened in 2016?
Uttarakhand had witnessed its worst wildfire in 2016 when over 4433 hectares was gutted in 2074 incidents of forest fires. Six people had died while four had sustained severe injuries. At the time, forest fires had remained unnoticed for several days following a political crisis in the state that had led to the imposition of the President’s rule. According to an official, forest fires were reported from 1200 places on a single day, April 26, that year. In the emergency situation that had ensued, the option of cloud seeding was unsuccessfully explored/ Then, helicopters were used for the first in the state to douse fire. While the temperature was very high at that time, the fuel load was very less and wind velocity was weak.
Considering these last two factors, experts say 2021 may witness wildfire worse than 2016 and natural rain is the last hope.


What causes forest fires?
The forest department cites four causes of wildfires in the state– deliberate fires by locals, carelessness, farming-related activities and natural reasons. According to a government report, locals set forests on fire for growth of good quality grass, to cover up illegal cutting of trees, for poaching and sometimes to even take revenge from somebody including government employees. Friction of electricity cables with dry leaves and woods and lightning too trigger wildfires, according to the report. Setting forest on fire is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code. A forest official said that several cases have been lodged but the accused remain unidentified in most of such cases.

What are the preventive measures?
Padma Bhushan awardee and Dehradun-based environmentalist, Anil Prakash Joshi said Van Panchayats should be given rights and incentives for protecting the forests. Joshi said provisions of the Forest Act of 1988 dissociates the local community with the forests and, in the absence of a sense of belonging, local community villagers do not initiate dousing fires on their own. Joshi said waterholes should be developed across the mountains to recharge groundwater and maintain moisture in the soil.

A forest official said awareness is the only solution and there shou;d be programmes to motivate local people to protect forests from fire because they act as first responder whereas the forest department has limited staff. The official added that reporting and fire management is better in reserve forest areas but facilities and manpower lack in civil areas.


Explained: Why is this season’s forest fires in Uttarakhand worrisome?
 

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Uttarakhand RTPCR Report must to enter Dehradun

Any update here ; does one need a Covid report to enter Ddoon


Yes
checking for RT PCR.
Different queues for people with and without reports.

People with reports allowed after the reports are checked.
 

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Another glacier break reported in Uttarakhand’s Niti Valley, says CM Tirath Singh Rawat
Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat said the district administration has been instructed to get complete information about the case.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |

Updated: April 24, 2021 12:28:32 am

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The district administration has been instructed to get complete information about the case. (Reuters Image/File)


The Uttarakhand government issued an alert late on Friday night following reports that a glacier had broken off in the Sumna area of Niti Valley near the India-China border in Chamoli district.
Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat said he was in constant touch with the district administration and Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
“The breaking of a glacier has been reported in Sumna, Niti Valley. I have issued an alert in this regard. I am in constant touch with the district administration and BRO,” Rawat tweeted.

Rawat added that the district administration has been instructed to get complete information on the matter. Orders have been issued to stop work at NTPC and other projects so that no untoward incident occurs at night, he added in the tweet.

In another tweet, Rawat said Union Home Minister Amit Shah has taken cognizance of the information on the glacier burst, and assured help from the Centre and alerted the ITBP.
Chamoli district disaster management officer N K Joshi told The Indian Express, “There is no information about any loss of life so far. There is no village habitation in Sumna area. There are camps of ITBP, and BRO teams were working there.”
Sumna is around 40 km ahead of Raini village — towards the China border — in Tapovan area of Joshimath tehsil of Chamoli district.
Upstream on the Rishiganga river near Raini village in the same Niti Valley, a glacial burst had occurred on February 7, leading to a flash flood in the Rishiganga and Dhauliganga rivers, and devastation at the site of two hydro power projects downstream.
A total of 204 people had gone missing from multiple sites in the incident. So far, 80 bodies have been recovered while 124 are still missing. Last week, one body was recovered from the barrage site during removal of debris near Dhauliganga in the Tapovan area.
DGP Ashok Kumar said in a tweet that teams have been dispatched to take stock of situation. “ITBP jawans are safe,” he said. Due to bad weather conditions, officials are yet to get full details of the incident, he said.

This is a developing story. More details awaited.


Another glacier break reported in Uttarakhand’s Niti Valley, says CM Tirath Singh Rawat
 
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