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Air, heli services in Pithoragarh hit by smoke from raging forest fires  

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Air, heli services in Pithoragarh hit by smoke from raging forest fires

B.D. Kasniyal

Pithoragarh, May 4

The air and heli services to Pithoragarh and Munsiyari towns of this border district remained suspended for the second day today as the air visibility due to forest fires and resultant smoke near airport and surrounding remained less than 1000 meters much lower than 5000 meters that is  required for air fliers to operate.

The air service is operated by an aircraft of ‘Fly Big’ company from Dehradun to Pithoragarh while the heli services are operated by a Helicopter of ‘Heritage Aviation’ company from Haldwani to Ppithoragarh and Munsiyari.

“The air visibility is low due to smoke being emitted due to burning of forests in and around Sour valley, the headquarter of Pithoragarh district and location of Naini- Saini airport from where both the services are being operated,” said  Ashish Kumar Mishra, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and airport manager

According to the SDM, smoke emitted by forest fires has gone so dense in both places of Pithoragarh and Munsiyari that even the hill peaks are not visible.”The passengers to Haldwani and Dehradun are disappointed due to cancellation of both the services. We are trying our best to douse the forest fire to let the visibility become better, “said the airport manager.

Besides in Sour valley, the forest fires are also burning uncontrollably in Quirala valley of Champawat, Lohaghat forests and forests of Jhoolaghat and Gaurihat.” We had to take extra care in going towards Jhoolaghat from Gaurihat as the visibility on the 10 km long road is so dim that no vehicle could be seen from beyond 10 meters distance following smokes emitted from forest fires in surrounding jungles,”said  Vikram Singh Rawat, a tourist at Jhoolaghat.

Medical officers in community and primary health centers at various places in the district have said that  they are witnessing increased number of patients in their hospitals, complaining of difficulty in breathing, and irritation in eyes caused by smoke from last week.” These problems are caused by smoke being emitted by forest burning. We  are advising patients to take precaution against smoke,” said Dr Harish Chandra Rawat, in charge of Primary health centre (PHC), Jhoolaghat.




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