As we reach almost the end of May, 2020 has been declared the year of disasters by many. First, there was Covid-19, then earthquake, Cyclone Amphan, locust attack in North India.
Recently, messages about another disaster are in circulation in the media, i.e., Uttarakhand forest fires. Many pictures of wildfire have become viral in the social media and these pictures are being shared in the mainstream media as well.
Some users have shared few pictures with text stating "It's a moment of utter grief for the entire nation as our devbhoomi Uttarakhand faces the forest fire crisis, and the wildlife specifies that reside in the forest are in grave danger. Please #PrayForUttarakhand that this catastrophe stops with no more loss of our flora & fauna."
while others shared the pictures saying "Forest fire breaks out in #Uttarakhand I repeat 2020 is the worst year."
Tollywood actor Sai Dharam Tej has also shared these images on his social media accounts
The above claim is MISLEADING.
Though the fire has started in Uttarakhand on May 23 (Saturday), most of the pictures shared on the internet pertaining to forest fires in Uttarakhand are either old or are NOT from India.
We found ANI report on May 23 stating that forest fire broke out in Srinagar of Pauri Garhwal district today. Forest officer Anita Kunwar says, "5-6 hectares of forest has been affected. Fire could not be controlled due to wind. More teams will be called to extinguish it."
This report of fire in Uttarakhand was published on ANI website as well as its Twitter account.
The Uttarakhand forest department has also admitted that the state forest is burning for the past 4-5 days, but they also stressed that the devastation is nowhere close to the pictures being circulated on social media.
Taking to their social media account, Uttarakhand forest department has stated that "Fake news of forest fire 2020 in Uttarakhand are being circulated on social media. After verification of such images, it has been found that these images are fake. Few such images are being uploaded by us. It is our request to kindly do not spread fake news."
They even shared the viral pictures and the origin of these pics.
Sharing the same pictures in Facebook account, they clarified that "It has come to our notice that fake news of forest fire 2020 in Uttarakhand are being circulated on social media platforms. After verification of such images it has been found that these images are either old or it belongs to some other places. Few such images are being uploaded by us. It is our request to kindly do not spread fake news. Thank you.
IPS officer Ashok Kumar has also shared a video, which explains that the rumours about forest fire in Uttarakhand using #uttarakhandwildfire #PrayForUttarakhand are completely false and mischievous.. Uttarakhand police is going to lodge FIR against such rumour mongers @ANI @aajtak @ABPNews @PIBHindi @PIBFactCheck @tsrawatbjp @News18India
Dr Parag Madhukar, conservator, forest department, also shared a video explaining that there are no massive forest fires in Uttarakhand, many old and wrong visuals are being shared on social media. Please be careful. FYI it rained in some parts of the state today #PrayForUttarakhand
Some are from Uttarakhand, but from fire of the year 2016.
While the reports of forest fire in Uttarakhand is true, the pictures shared along with the claim are completely misleading and are blowing the situation out of proportion.
Hence, the claim is MISLEADING.