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Fire Refuses To Douse

Baripada: The forest fire that refuses to douse in the Similipal National Park is stoking public anger in Mayurbhanj the people of which are sentimentally attached to this bio-reserve.
Hundreds of devotees joined the priests of the famous Shree Jagannath temple in Baripada and lit 1000 earthen lamps to give vent to their anger at the way the State Government is responding to this catastrophic development.
This growing public anger is likely to give shape to a mass movement in Mayurbhanj, sources in knowledge of the development said.
Opposition Congress on Saturday alleged that the Odisha government’s claim of gaining control over the forest fire in Similipal National Park is “untrue”, as local outfit Bhanja Sena called for a 12-hour bandh in Mayurbhanj district on March 10.
The outfit, with youths and students as its members, alleged that the administration has failed to control the fire in one of Asia”s largest biosphere reserves.
“We have called for a 12-hour bandh on March 10 to put pressure on the government to take forest fire incidents seriously,” Bhanja Sena founder and North Odisha Tourism Development Council President Kalinga Keshari Jena told reporters.
Accusing the Government of misleading people by claiming that the forest fire is under control, Congress spokesperson Sudarshan Das said that NASA pictures show that 30 percent of the fire is still active.
Noting that State Government had said two days ago during a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that the fire was under control, Mr.Das said, “The claims made by the state government are false and misleading.”
Mr.Das, who will submit a report to the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee on the situation within two days, claimed that around 40 per cent of Similipal’s 2,750 SQ KM area has been affected by the forest fire and there has been no effort to control it.
He alleged that the Forest Department did not involve the locals in the firefighting operations.