Uttarakhand Forest Fires: Government Reports 0.1% Wildlife Cover Affected, Supreme Court Takes Notice

Supreme Court Rejects PIL Challenging Three New Criminal Laws

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a petition regarding the forest fire incident in Uttarakhand on May 6th reflects the gravity of the situation. The involvement of both the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in firefighting operations underscores the severity and urgency of the situation, prompting legal intervention to address the crisis effectively.

Government’s Response

The Uttarakhand government informed the Supreme Court about its efforts to contain the severe forest fires, stating that only a small fraction, 0.1 percent, of the state’s wildlife habitat has been affected by these incidents. The government reported to a bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta that since November of the previous year, there have been 398 incidents of forest fires, all of which were caused by human activities.

The state counsel clarified that despite reports suggesting that 40 percent of Uttarakhand was engulfed in flames, the reality was far less dire, with only 0.1 percent of the state’s wildlife habitat affected by fires. Additionally, the lawyer presented an interim status report to the bench.

Additionally, the state government apprised the bench, consisting of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, that it has taken swift action in response to the situation. Subsequently, 350 criminal cases have been filed regarding forest fires, with 62 individuals implicated in these cases.

Court’s Directions

The Supreme Court issued a directive instructing both the Uttarakhand government and the petitioners involved in the case to share their respective reports with the Central Empowered Committee (CEC). This decision is aimed at fostering a thorough assessment of the incident.

During the hearing, the bench stressed that strategies such as cloud seeding or relying solely on rain were not viable solutions to the issue, highlighting the necessity for proactive measures by the state. The proceedings was adjourned, with further hearings scheduled for May 15th.

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About the Author: Hemansh Tandon