Mumbai: After hooch, illegal fishing in lake inside national park

On the heels of mid-day’s exposé of a hooch unit on an island in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a nature lover noticed men fishing in the Tulsi lake, which is home to several species and is a source of drinking water for animals

Not just illegal hooch-brewing, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is now suffering from illegal fishing in its core forest area as well. Less than a week after mid-day’s report exposing an illegal hooch unit in the middle of Vihar lake, a nature lover noticed illegal fishing going on at both Tulsi and Vihar lakes.

Mumbai: Hooch being made inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park!

Illegal fishing in Tulsi lake, which is in the core forest area of SGNP. National park officials claimed these people are locals, who manage to evade being caught as they know the forest well
Illegal fishing in Tulsi lake, which is in the core forest area of SGNP. National park officials claimed these people are locals, who manage to evade being caught as they know the forest well

Both the lakes fall within the core area of the SGNP, where entry for people is restricted. However, more than a week ago, a nature lover happened to go by a road passing by the Tulsi lake, and noticed a man floating on a tube in the lake. When he stopped his vehicle to get a better look, he saw that the man was fishing. At a distance, another man was seen fishing while floating on a tyre tube (see pics).

‘Too big to patrol’
Many trails reach the Tulsi lake from Mulund and Bhandup. Several nature lovers and tribals enter the core forest area from spots where the boundary wall is broken. The lake falls under the purview of the SGNP. When asked about the fishing inside restricted forest territory, an official from SGNP said, “It is true that the lake falls under our jurisdiction, but we have control over the land.

The water body is under the BMC’s jurisdiction. We regularly patrol the area, and if anyone is found fishing, we will take action against the person.” Another SGNP officials claimed, “These are tribals and people staying on the periphery of the park’s boundary.

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Given the large area of the park, it is not possible to keep a tab on each and every location, but we have booked people, time and again, for trespassing. The area surrounding the lake is huge and, so, people involved in this sometimes manage to run away before we reach the spot to catch them.” The official added that since these locals know the forest well, they flee the scene with ease.

Vibrant ecosystem
The Tulsi lake has a vibrant ecosystem it is home to a variety of freshwater fish, crocodiles, and turtles. The surrounding grasslands are habitat for deer and sambar. Several wild animals, including leopards, wild boar, also come to the lake to drink water.

Official speak

Ashokkumar Tavadia, BMC hydraulic engineer, was unavailable for comment. 

Anwar Ahmed, acting chief conservator of forest, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, could also not be reached for comment.

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