IAF choppers, NDRF fight Uttarakhand forest fires

Dehradun, May 1 (IANS) Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters sprayed water in a bid to control forest fires raging in Uttarakhand, union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday.

A team of 40 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel were also deployed in Nainital and Almora districts, authorities said.

Javadekar said in New Delhi that the government would investigate how and why the massive fire erupted and spread to such a wide area.

He said it would be seen if timber mafia was behind the blaze. “But our first priority is to douse the fire and give relief to people.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has earmarked Rs.5 crore for the fire-fighting operation. The home ministry is monitoring the situation, Javadekar said.

Forty NDRF personnel had reached Almora, one of the worst hit districts, officials said.

The fires began 88 days ago and have so far destroyed nearly 3,000 acres of forest cover.

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