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NASA satellites show fires still raging over Similipal, rest of Odisha.

This NASA image is not of Diwali festival . NASA images dispute the claim made by forest officers in the state that the fires at Similipal biosphere reserve were more or less under control.

Satellite image of NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System of forest fires.(Courtesy- NASA)

Even as Odisha forest officials claimed that the raging fires in Similipal biosphere reserve, listed among the few biospheres of Unesco for its critical resources, was by and large under control, satellite pictures of NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System of forest fires showed that the fires were raging over Odisha and Similipal.

The Near Real-Time (NRT) active fire data of within 3 hours of satellite observation from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites and NASA’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) showed at least a hundred fire spots in Similipal biosphere reserve, spread over an area of 5569 sq km. The Similipal biosphere, having the largest zone of Sal trees in the country, is known for its distinctive biodiversity including 93 species of orchids, 300 species of medicinal plants and 52 species of endangered flora. It also has 42 species of mammals, 264 bird species, 39 reptile species and 12 amphibian species.

On Thursday, forest officials in Odisha claimed that the fires in the reserve were under control. “The fires were reported only in areas on the fringe of the reserve. These are not continuous fires that we see in places like the US or Australia, but sporadic fires that are caused due to anthropogenic factors. There has been no loss of wildlife due to the fire,” said regional chief conservator of forests of Baripada circle, M Yogajayananda.