Forest department nabs five locals after fire destroys 1,500 trees in Kalyan

Updated: Nov 16, 2018, 21:46 IST | Anamika Gharat

According to sources, of the entire plantation in the area, 70-80 trees have been completely damaged

The area at Varap village where the fire destroyed trees
The area at Varap village where the fire destroyed trees

The forest department has arrested five locals of Varap village in Kalyan after they were allegedly found to be involved in the spreading of a fire, which destroyed about 1,500 trees planted as part of the Van Mahotsav (tree plantation drive), started by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on July 2. According to sources, of the entire plantation in the area, 70-80 trees have been completely damaged. This includes the one planted by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar while inaugurating the statewide plantation drive.

Speaking to mid-day, environmental activist Ramesh Dalvi, said, "A similar incident took place in the same area about two-and-a-half years back. At that time also several trees were destroyed. However, the forest department did not investigate the matter and take action. When the villagers knew that the plants were dry due to the weather, they should not have lit the fire there to burn cow."

When asked what could have led to the spreading of the fire, Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar, deputy conservator of forest said, "The locals were burning cow dung in the Varap village area. They did it deliberately. The fire spread across the hill destroying most of the plants. We have doused the flames with the help of the fire brigade. As the roots of some of the plants are deep, we'll try our best to save them. We are trying to salvage the situation." He further said, "The villagers have been arrested under the Indian Forest Act. After being produced in court, they were sent to judicial custody till November 30."

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