'No Forest Officials For Election Duties': SC's Stern Directive To Centre, Uttarakhand Over Forest Fires

The apex court directed that no state shall deploy forest officials or forest department vehicles for poll duty. The top court further sought an explanation on why central funds were not utilised for dousing fires as out of over Rs 9 crore disbursed by the Centre in 2023. The court mentioned that only Rs 3.14 crore was spent on preventing forest fires.
Uttarakhand Forest Fires

Uttarakhand Forest Fires

New Delhi: Taking a serious stance against the Uttarakhand government's tackling of forest fires, the Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned the state's chief secretary to appear before it on May 17. The court criticised the 'lackadaisical' approach shown by the Uttarakhand government in tackling fires, highlighting the urgency of the situation.
The apex court further directed that no state shall deploy forest officials or forest department vehicles for poll duty. The top court further sought an explanation on why central funds were not utilised for dousing fires as out of over Rs 9 crore disbursed by the Centre in 2023. The court mentioned that only Rs 3.14 crore was spent on preventing forest fires.
The Supreme Court has asked the state's chief secretary to explain large vacancies in the forest department and the lack of fire fighting equipment. The chief secretary has been asked to explain the deployment of forest officials despite specific exemption granted by the Election Commission.
The panel led by Justice BR Gavai, alongside Justices SVN Bhatti and Sandeep Mehta, noted that despite the formulation of various action plans, there has been a consistent failure to execute them effectively.
The apex court's stance follows the recent wildfires which hit the hill state during this summer season. The Head of Forest Force Dhananjay Mohan on May 9 said that five people had lost their lives while 1,300 hectares of land were affected due to the forest fires.
“The situation of forest fire is currently under control. Forest department personnel are reaching on time at the accident spot. So far 388 cases have been registered in forest fires and 60 cases have been named,” Mohan told ANI.
Uttarakhand has recently witnessed an alarming increase in forest fires, prompting concerns about environmental safety and the impact on local communities. As per reports, forest fires have become an annual feature and the change in weather conditions has resulted in soaring temperatures.
Majorly, Uttarakhand starts experiencing forest fires in mid-February as trees shed dry leaves and the soil loses moisture due to a temperature rise, and this continues till mid-June.
End of Article
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