A massive fire destroyed a huge tract of the forest cover in Mumbai's Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Monday night. The fire which broke out in the forest area behind Film City was eventually brought under control. No one was hurt in the blaze.
SGNP officials feel some miscreants deliberately set fire in the forest to delay the ongoing demolition of illegal slums in the area.
On Monday evening, at around 7 am, the SGNP control room received a call from Goregaon area that a major forest fire was blazing in the vicinity of the Film City and it was spreading further towards the boundary of SGNP.
The Fire Brigade tankers and engines along with the SGNP team rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Assistant Conservator of Forest Santosh Saste said, “It is very early to comment on the exact reason of the fire but I can surely say that this is not a natural fire. Already our demolition drive against the illegal structures on forestland is in progress and we suspect that some miscreants must have deliberately set the forest on fire so that the team carrying our demolition has to go to the fire spot and the demolition of next drive is cancelled. Along with the help of fire department, we have been successful in controlling and dousing the fire.”
Saste informed that a team of 20 forest workers who know how to douse fire are always ready and rush to a location the moment they are notified about a forest fire.
“A team of 20 forest workers is already posted at Loghut hill near Tulsi Lake area in core forest and another team is posted neat Gandhi Hill so that in case if there is fire in the forest area the team can reach the spot without wasting time. We have already finished the fire line work before February 15 and our forest department guards along with forest workers are also patrolling day and night on foot so that such instances can be avoided.” added Saste
According to a report prepared by Forest Department, between 2005-2010, there were more than 350 forest fire incidents reported and around 1000 hectares of forest burnt to cinders due to them.
According to a fire department official, “The exact reason for the fire is yet to be known but at around 11 pm we got a call from Goregaon that there is a fire in the forest near Film City. Immediately, two of our fire engines along with forest department reached the spot and the situation was brought under control within a few hours.