Mumbai: Post Damu Nagar fire, strict measures in place for devotees visiting shrines on Mahashivratri

With the Damu Nagar fire incident fresh in mind, this year, the people visiting shrines in SGNP and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary on Mahashivratri will have to pass through strict checking as the Forest Department, along with volunteers, would not only confiscate inflammable things from visitors, but strict action would be taken against those who are found roaming in forest. More than 3 lakh people visit SGNP and Tungareshwar on Mahashivratri and this is when chances of forest fires increase. Already, the forest has started drying due to summer and the dry leaves litter can spread the fire even faster.

On March 1, a meeting took place at Nature Interpretation Center (NIC) inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in which FD officials, police officials and the NGOs along with volunteers who will help the FD on Mahashivratri. More than 100 volunteers and more than 300 FD and police personals are going to be present on the Mahashivratri day at SGNP, Yeoor range of SGNP and at Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary to mange the crowd and the devotees that come to the shrines that are there.

“Managing the large number of devotees that come to SGNP and especially TWS is not an easy job. So, a meeting of volunteers along with FD and police officials took place at SGNP on March 1 in which all the issues were discussed. We have an example of Damu Nagr fire incident in mind and so, this year, there would be more rigorous checking and inflammable things like lighter, matchbox, kerosene, which can cause forest fire, that will not be allowed inside the park, “ Said Wildlife Expert and Environmentalist Krishna Tiwari from NGO Forest and Wildlife Conservation Centre.

The SGNP authorities want more volunteers to come forward and help the FD and so they are also using the social networking sites like Facebook and WhatsApp to spread the message. This year, Mahashivratri falls on Monday (March 7) and, as Monday is said to be the day of Lord Shiva, the number of devotees is expected to be much more.

“SGNP Forest Department once again calls upon volunteers to monitor and tackle the large number of devotees that swarm SNGP and Tungareshwar WLS for the celebrations. Inflammables and plastics will be confiscated from the visitors at the entrance gates and our focus would also be on stopping the visitors from wandering into the forest. A vigil will be kept for forest fires, and necessary action taken at the earliest, if required,” informed SGNP Assistant Conservator of Forest, Sachin Repal.

This year, the FD has also made flying squads and officials, along with the volunteers, would be doing round the clock patrolling and especially at TWS. It should be noted that, at TWS, the devotees also cook food, which is offered to the crowd that comes. A restriction has been put on using cylinders and stoves to cook food inside the forest jurisdiction.

SGNP officials, on their FB page, have also appealed for more participation of volunteers for TWS. “To further strengthen and manage the situation in Tungareshwar WLS, especially during Mahashivratri, large-scale efforts are required. This Mahashivratri, we request a greater participation at Tungareshwar WLS, and we hope we will receive full-hearted support and cooperation from one and all,” stated the message on FB page of SGNP.

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