Fact Check: Are Uttarakhand forests burning in massive fire?
Dehradun : As India is fighting the crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic and cyclone Amphan in Bengal and Odisha, some of Twitter users shared pictures of burning forests claiming them to be from Uttarakhand.
Influenced with them, several others started praying for the state by forwarding those pictures on the social media. Even some of the media outlets also covered the news based on the facts established from the social media pictures.
According to a report published in TOI on May 24, the forest fire has consumed 51.34 hectares of cover thus far since the first incident was reported.
It took only a few retweets to trend hashtags like #PrayforUttarakhand and #UttarakhandForestFires, bringing sad memories of Australia wildfire last year.
Check out some of the tweets from Twitter users below:
What is the truth and what are these pictures?
News Heads contacted Mr Ramesh Bhatt, media advisor for Uttarakhand CM, to confirm the reports trending on social media. He clarified that these are misleading pictures and have no relevance to the current reality of Uttarakhand. "There is no such fire incident in Uttarakhand right now," he confirmed.
We also reverse searched the images and found couple of them used in a study produced in Columbia Magazine about how climate change had fuelled forest fires in the United States. You can find the study here.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Forest Department has also clarified that do not fall for these images as Uttarakhand is perfectly safe and had no fire raging in its forests. Read the Facebook post below:
A video posted on Twitter also shows Dr Parag Madhukar, an official with the forest department, who says that there are no major fires in Uttarakhand and that there is no reason to panic. Another news report by Mumbai Mirror also debunks such claims and establishes that most photos being shared on social media are fake.