Satellite images show that there’s been a decline in the number of forest fires in Uttarakhand since April 28. Though fires in the region are still intense, images that have been sourced from two U.S. satellites Aqua and Terra and available on ISRO’s Bhuvan platform show an uptick between April 27-April 29 and then a fall, a fact that’s also been confirmed by ground reports from Uttarakhand.
(No. of forest fire cases shown in red dots. Dates considered: 26/04/2016 to 02/05/2016)
Visitors to ISRO’s website can view daily updates of the fires. Red circles indicate active fire locations and they are a composite of how the two satellites detect changes in heat on the land. Nearly 36 different wavelengths are analysed by these satellites for them to specify the locations of probable fires, said P.K. Joshi, a satellite imagery specialist and professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry said that last month alone, fire ravaged nearly 1900 hectares of forest in about 1200 locations. In 2012, fire had broken out in over 1300 places and more than 2,000 hectares was affected. Over 6000 labourers have been deployed for fire-fighting and Rs. 5 crore has been sanctioned for containment efforts.
Since last year, the National Remote Sensing Agency, has been coordinating with State forest officials, to warn of possible fires through analysing satellite images.
Local television channels are running 30-second spots telling people how to take care of such fires and how they can also contribute to fire-fighting efforts. Two years of drought and a rise in the average temperature, low relative humidity and strong winds have all contributed to the fires. A Minister toldThe Hindu last week that forest fires followed certain cyclic patterns with a peak between 4-5 years in a five-year cycle.