Katra fears major forest fire tragedy

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The recent consecutive forest fire incidents near Himkoti and Katra landing base in Trikuta Hills have exposed inefficiency of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) in tackling with this major seasonal calamity.

Though, the SMVDSB claims itself to be fully equipped and efficient of dealing with any kind of untoward incident but unfortunately its failure in controlling forest fire for three long days, a seasonal calamity, has made things quite black and white. The claims of SMVDSB were miserably exposed in the recent series of fire that destroyed large stretch of forest, wherein entire mechanism was crumbled.

“In the recent fire incident, the SMVDSB failure was evident, as to douse the fire the choppers of Indian Air Force (IAF) were pumped in,” said sources within the department, saying that the board has no mechanism to control such fires, besides having no equipment. Pertinent to mention that the two consecutive fire incidents occurred this week near Himkoti and Katra landing base in the Trikuta Hills of Mata Vaishno Devi, which left SMVDSB officials ‘paralyzed’, who were watching forest fire as mute spectator, without much in their hands.

Several attempts were made by the shrine board, police, forest authorities and fire department to douse the fire but all gone in vain. The continuously raging fire had even obliged the choppers authorities to shift their landing base from Katra helipad to Kakrayal University and fuel stocks to some safer places for the safety reasons. SMVDSB just for the sake of formality has formulated a special Quick Action Team (QAT) and Fire Watchers (FW) under its fire management System.

The duty of fire watchers is to keep an eye over the area especially on forest to timely report the fire incidents so that fire could be controlled easily by QAT before its spreading. But unfortunately nothing beyond this has been managed or purchased by the SMVDSB who is rich enough for the same to douse the fire immediately right after its eruption.

Even Shrine board have not maintained any term with the private players running chopper service there from years to assist them in dousing fire right after its eruption which is even their social responsibility as they have earned millions from there. And even the financial state of shrine board is capable of purchasing of maintaining its own forest fire fighting system as it it’s a seasonal calamity of the Vaishno Devi Shrine which could lead to any mishap if remained uncontrolled for a longer time.

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