As police in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka look for suspects, the IAF deploys choppers to spray water to douse the raging forest fire
The Karnataka police is questioning one person over the massive fire in the Bandipur forest range. The police investigation is on the basis of a complaint by the Karnataka Forest Department that some “mischievous elements” had caused the forest fire on Friday. The fire has spread since then to three different areas of the Bandipur forest.
“No forest fire is natural. It is largely man-made. We have suspected some people and complained to the police. They are questioning one person,” said C Jayaram, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) (Wildlife), Karnataka.
Earlier in the day, Indian Air Force was called in, with helicopters spraying water over Bandipur in an attempt to douse the rapidly spreading fire.
“Helicopters which have capabilities to lift the water by using special buckets are deployed to douse the fire. This morning helicopters arrived from Sulur (Coimbatore) air force station. Helicopters will be used to douse the fire in MTR (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve) and BTR (Bandipur Tiger Reserve),” said a statement by Guru Prasad, PRO, Defence Ministry in Bengaluru.
This is the third day of efforts to douse the forest fire which is spreading rapidly across Bandipur and Mudumalai.
Fresh forest fires have been reported in Anaikatti, Pollachi- Valparai range in Tamil Nadu and Tirupati hills in Andhra Pradesh
Speaking to The Lede, PCCF Jayaram explained the process of spraying the forests with water.
“We called for a recce (reconnaissance). Helicopters have come, they are spraying water to the extent possible. Whatever such methods are there, we are using – traditional methods, we have deployed fire tenders. Our people along with fire forces are working round the clock. Senior officers are also on the spot,” said Jayaram.
“We have requested Defence people, they have come, they did recce. Our honourable Forest Minister has also come. Honourable CM has also talked to Defence Ministry because they have to send helicopters to spray water. Now those helicopters have also come. They are also on the job. We are taking all efforts.”
Jayaram also appealed to people not to share fake pictures of dead animals. He said that aerial reconnaissance of the forests had showed that no animals have been found dead so far.
“I am not bothered about reading the newspapers usually, but a lot of people have written that a lot of animals are dead. Because it absolutely, never happened. Animals are wiser than all of us, they will move away from the area, they will not die. It is completely false news,” he said.
Karnataka Forest Department used social media to douse the rapid spread of fake news and rumours. The department posted a tweet announcing that reports of animals allegedly dying in the forest fire are “fare from truth”.
The Lede had done a fact check on Monday to ascertain the veracity of the pictures of burnt animals doing the rounds of social media. All of the pictures were found to be fake. You may read that report here.
Meanwhile, for the fire fighters, forest personnel, volunteers and activists involved in dousing the blaze in the wild, Karnataka Forest Department has sought people’s contribution in kind. A tweet from the department said.