The Year Of Fires: Setting A State Aflame And How

Forest Fire

This has to be the year of inexplicable fires. The Lord of Light is punishing us with His wrath. He is gutting museums, rotting garbage, buildings and factories. And the funny bit is, none of these cataclysms have been properly ascertained. The amount of losses incurred this year, owing to fire, has been insurmountable. And to add to the disaster has been the forest fire in Uttarakhand that is burning the state, every day.

The merciless summer sun is beating down upon us. Across India, people are succumbing to heat waves, water scarcity and thirst. The country is on fire and it is only going to get worse hereon. And to add to these woes, are (man-made, we are unsure) disasters. The heat has spread like a forest fire, literally. The pristine northern state has been engulfed in a thick layer of smog. The newspapers report that around 2,269 hectares of forested area has been scorched. And there have been casualties. As many as seven persons lost their lives, as the fire spread in Pauri, Nainital, Almora, Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Dehradun.

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We do not know the state of animals, but their situation is bound to be perturbing. The National Disaster Response Force and various forces have been pressed into service, as the Centre holds on to relief and hope.

At a time when the country is reeling under severe drought and water crisis, its natural green cover is its only respite. And we are losing that. Uttarakhand is aflame; it is searing. The best of the greenery has been charred. While cops, locals and the media is prodding a possible timber-mafia angle, humanity (of the lack thereof) cannot be let off as innocent.

What is happening in the state is the result of our own actions. The greed to have more – of wood and land, has led to this catastrophe. India, it can be safely said, is staring at an impending apocalypse. Can we dismiss this fire as a natural tragedy? No we cannot, because everything ‘natural’ sums down to human ravenousness to exploit its ecosystem.

Statistics show that the average green cover expanse in India is shrinking in size every year. Locals may dismiss the event as an annual calamity – that the pine cover is susceptible to fire and there is nothing extraordinary about it, but one cannot simply take away human voraciousness from the equation.

Something is wrong here, right? There has to be an anomaly which is being overlooked. That the human piggishness is unharnessed is no surprise. Whether it was Mafioso or plain savagery that caused the fire and gutted our forests, the state is in flames; our natural resources exploited, polluted and abused. And in the wake of such a cataclysm, Uttarakhand has our solidarity.

Prerna Mittra

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The Viewspaper