Forest Fires Rage in Odisha’s Similipal

The Similipal Tiger Reserve, Odisha had caught on fire 2 weeks back and now another major fire has broken out in the Kuldiha Sanctuary on Saturday 6th March 2021.

The Similipal Tiger Reserve , Odisha had caught on fire 2 weeks back and the state government had a tough time controlling the flames. Fortunately, the main areas of Similipal which houses tigers remained unaffected. Now another major fire has broken out in the adjoining Kuldiha Sanctuary on Saturday 6th March 2021. Fire Services personnel and Forest Department staffers are working very hard to control the wildfire and the locals have also come forward to extend a helping hand. 


Between March-April villagers near the Similipal Tiger Reserve, go to the forest to collect Mahua flowers to make country liquor. During this time, the flowers naturally fall on the ground. However dried leaves fall and cover the flowers. Inorder to separate the leaves from the flowers, they burn the leaves. The fire does not affect the flowers. Once all the dried leaves are burnt they can easily pick up the flowers. The villagers move from one village to another through the forest and they carry a fire torch at night. This practice by locals causes massive fire in the forests. It is very dangerous to the trees and animals living there. 

To save the forest from fires and humans from wild animals, the forest divisions had initiated an innovative idea of using green nets to collect the Mahua flowers. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Shashi Paul said, "Let me first clarify the perception that has been created that the fire has been blazing for almost 15 days. This is incorrect. Like every year even this year there were fires in certains areas of the forest. We prepare for these beforehand by forming special squads from February 15. As we get the satellite information regarding the fire spots, we communicate it to our field staff and accordingly they move to extinguish the fire. Around 1250 men including forest department staff and fire watchers engaged on daily wages. They have been equipped with vehicles and fire blowers. Even 40 vehicles of the Forest Department have been pressed into action.” However,  a local group, named Bhanja Sena, has called for a bandh across the district on March 10. This is because the group claims the Odisha government does not care about the fires and is not doing a good job controlling it.