Wake up and smell the fire: Green activists to BMC

Updated: Dec 09, 2016, 10:28 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

After a late night blaze damages more than half an acre of mangrove cover in Dahisar, residents and environmentalists allege that land grabbers are behind it

The fire in a mangrove patch between Dahisar and Mira Road took away a large chunk of the green. Pics/Amit Panariya
The fire in a mangrove patch between Dahisar and Mira Road took away a large chunk of the green. Pics/Amit Panariya

In a huge blow to the city’s biodiversity and already dwindling mangrove cover, a fire engulfed more than half an acre of a mangrove patch between Dahisar and Mira Road on Wednesday night.

A resident of the area, who is also a naturalist and wildlife photographer, Amit Panariya, said, “Last night, almost the whole of Dahisar east was covered in smoke. It was then discovered that there had been a fire (due to an unknown cause) in the mangrove forest separating Mumbai and Mira-Bhayander municipality limits. The source of the blaze was inaccessible to the fire brigade. Such incidents will lead to loss of important green cover if nothing is done immediately.”

Tough firefighting
The fire brigade reached the spot in the morning, and with the help of five water tankers and firefighters, the blaze was brought under control after a four-hour operation.

A fire officer said, “We received a call about a fire in the mangrove forest around 11 pm and we reached there though it was outside our jurisdiction; it lies in the jurisdiction of Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation. The next morning as well our officers went to the spot and doused the fire. Investigations are on to find out the exact reason for the fire.” As the location where the fire was difficult to access, firefighters faced a lot of problem.

Was it arson?
Local residents and activists from the area told mid-day that the fire was a deliberate act by anti-social elements looking to grab the land.

Activist and resident Harish Pande, who has been fighting since a decade to protect the mangroves in the Kandivli-Dahisar belt, said, “The ward officer has confirmed to us that he would be writing to the police and the tehsildar’s office for appropriate action. The fire seems to be a sinister attempt to clear wetlands of mangroves to make way for development. The location where the fire took place is barely 500 metres from the site where construction debris had been dumped earlier this year, which prompted a visit by the state Lokayukta.”

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