forest fire
3 NDRF teams battling forest fires in Uttarakhand; 1,900 hectares land razed Pictured: Trees on the slopes of Totu forest burn during a forest fire, on the outskirts of the northern Indian hill town of Shimla, May 18, 2009 [Representational Image]Reuters

Three teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) were deployed on Saturday to battle the raging forest fires in Uttarakhand, where almost 1,900 hectares of land has been gutted in the fire this week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured relief to the state where lives of thousands of people in 1,500 villages are at stake.

The causes of the multiple forest fires, which are greater in scale than those in previous years, have been pegged at drought and lack of pre-monsoon showers, reports said on Saturday. More than 300 hectares of land in forest reserves and sanctuaries, like the Jim Corbett National Park, Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary, has been gutted. However, the wildlife have not been harmed, Hindustan Times reported.

"Three teams of NDRF comprising 135 personnel deployed to control fire in forests in Uttarakhand. The operation has begun," OP Singh, director general of NDRF, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.

The teams will be deployed in Almora, Pauri and Gauchar in Chamoli district. Pauri Garhwal, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar and Chamoli have faced the maximum brunt of the forest fires.

"The NDRF companies, assisted by experts, will launch fire extinguishing and rescue operations in affected areas immediately," Shatrughna Singh, the chief secretary of Uttarakhand, was quoted as saying by HT.

At least four people have died and two have been injured in the fires. Two people died each in Uttarkashi and Nainital districts. State governor KK Paul has cleared a sum of Rs. 5 crore to address to immediate requirements to bring the forest fires under control.

A forest official said the forests will regenerate soon as the fires are mostly ground fires.

On Thursday, Sinha had said that at least eight districts in the state were to be declared as drought-hit.