Forest fires have spread across the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, with officials fearing it could be the worst fire season in years.
The Uttarakhand Forest Department has recorded 1,500 fire incidents in the state so far this year, with blazes intensifying in April as hot, dry summers arrive in northern India.
As part of local agriculture, the Himalayan region experiences forest fires in the first half of each year due to a combination of factors such as rising temperatures before summer and crop-straw burning.
But scientists say that what was seen, especially in the dry winter, is probably the driest event of the last decade, shining across the mountains. Neighboring Nepal has faced a season of intense fires, leaving the capital Kathmandu in a haze.
In Uttarakhand, which has about two-thirds of the forest, they have deployed thousands of workers to try to control the fire. But locals fear it is becoming a new commonplace.
Forests are a great resource of Uttarakhand. This is our main asset, “said Atul Sati, an environmental activist based in the state.” If we can lose it, it is not only the loss of Uttarakhand, it is the loss of India and the world. “
Rapid population growth in the region is increasing the pressure on the Himalayan forests, increasing agricultural activity making combustion management more difficult.
“We are degrading the natural environment,” said Iqbal Mud of the Nepal-based Integrated Mountain Development International Center. “There are fewer and fewer places where we can call a flood.”
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