Preparations to deal with forest fire, Cabinet Secretary made a plan with officials

Ananya Shroff
5 Min Read

New Delhi: The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, reviewed the preparedness of State Governments, Central Ministries and Departments to deal with extreme heat and forest fires. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Ministry of Environment presented a detailed report on the current situation of extreme heat and forest fires across the country and the steps being taken to deal with them. The Cabinet Secretary asked the Chief Secretaries to regularly review and monitor short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to enhance heat wave preparedness. He emphasized that efforts to maintain and increase sources of water supply should be accelerated and fire safety audits should be conducted in all institutions. The Cabinet Secretary said that States and Union Territories need to be better prepared to deal with the challenges related to heat wave and forest fires so that there is no loss of life and property and the damage caused by them can be minimized. The Cabinet Secretary assured the States that the Central Ministries and Departments are fully prepared to provide all necessary assistance to them.

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This year the summer days increased more than usual

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that between April and June 2024, different parts of the country witnessed 10-22 days of above normal heat. According to the forecast for the month of June, most parts of northwest India and adjoining areas of north central India are likely to have above normal temperature days. This year the monsoon is likely to be normal or above normal in most parts of the country. Regular alerts are being sent to the states by the IMD regarding the scorching heat. During the meeting, the NDMA said that constant discussions are being held with the states regarding heat and heat wave conditions. States have been advised to activate control rooms, implement SOPs for scorching heat, ensure availability of drinking water and prepare for health facilities and uninterrupted power supply. Along with this, it has also been advised to ensure the availability of essential medicines and ORS. States have also been advised to conduct regular fire safety audits of schools, hospitals and other institutions and reduce response time to fire incidents. State governments informed that the situation is being closely reviewed and monitored with the concerned departments and District Collectors.

Forest fire warnings being sent to mobile phones

The Environment Ministry said that regular alerts are being given about forest fires through mobile SMS and email. To assist the states and other agencies about the threat of forest fires, a warning portal system called Van Agni has also been developed by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), which gives advance and near real-time warning of forest fires. The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that during the review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 2, 2024, it was emphasized that more attention should be given to the issue of forest fires. A regular system of preparedness measures and annual exercises should be implemented to deal with forest fires, as is done in the case of floods. Union Home Secretary, Secretaries of Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Members and Heads of Departments of NDMA, CISC Headquarters (IDS), Chief Secretaries of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, NCT of Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand and senior officers from Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh also attended the review meeting through video conferencing.

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