In an effort to curb incidents of forest fires that occur inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) and Yeeor every year during Maha Shivratri, over 100 volunteers and 100 forest officials will be deployed at these three locations today.
A devotee offers milk to the Shivling on the occasion of Maha Shivratri at a temple inside TWS. File pic
More than 3 lakh devotees visit various shrines inside these locations on the occasion. Forest officials said most fires start after devotees discard cigarette butts without stubbing them out, or the diyas and candles they light near the temples and shrines fall on the dry foliage which catches fire.
Speaking to mid-day Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Sachin Repal said, “The forest department, along with volunteers from various NGOs, has chalked out a plan using which we’ll be able to prevent forest fires at SGNP, TWS and Yeoor.”
Forest Department (FD) officials had appealed to various NGOs to send their volunteers, to help them frisk devotees and confiscate flammable substances that can start forest fires. An official from SGNP said, “These volunteers will help us monitor and control the large number of devotees that throng these places during Maha Shivratri.
Besides frisking and confiscating flammable substances like kerosene, etc., volunteers will prevent devotees from wandering deep into the forest area.” Repal said security would be tighter at the TWS, as more devotees visit the century-old temple inside the sanctuary.
He added that numerous youngsters enter the sanctuary for fun and venture into the forest during the night, as there is no restriction on entry on the night of the festival and the one before it. Repal said stringent action will be taken against all those found guilty of destroying the forest ecology.
FD officials visited TWS last afternoon and warned the organisations providing free food and water to devotees that action will be initiated against them for failing to clear the waste after the festival.
Green cover lost
>> 92 forest fires occurred in SGNP, TWS and Yeoor between January 2012 and November 2013
>> These fires destroyed more than 277 hectares of forest cover