Mumbai: Palghar fire department rescues 20 snakes every day

Dec 01, 2018, 07:25 IST | Samiullah Khan

Fire department, which has been getting at least 10 to 15 calls every day since the floods of July, kept on toes on frenetic Friday

Mumbai: Palghar fire department rescues 20 snakes every day
Python is among the common species rescued from the area

The July deluge in Palghar district has turned the Vasai-Virar stretch into snake haven as over two dozen reptiles on an average are rescued daily from the area. A mix of venomous, semi-venomous and non-venomous snakes are among these, a fire official from the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC) told mid-day.

The Vasai-Virar belt was among the worst affected areas in the last monsoon with the residents facing a harrowing experience in July. The situation was so deplorable that for the first time in its history, the Western Railway was forced to collectively summon the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Navy, Army, the Coast Guard along with the Railway Protection Force to rescue over 2,000 passengers stranded in trains mid-way due to water-logging on July 10 — the day the region received 240 mm rainfall. Two days after rain stopped, several areas continued to be severely waterlogged and had no electricity supply. Meanwhile, three people lost their lives after drowning, and hundreds of residents were forced to remain home-bound.

Fire officials have at least two snake catchers in every shift
Fire officials have at least two snake catchers in every shift

According to fire brigade officials, the snakes sneaked into this low lying area with the flow of flood water. Ever since, the reptiles have made their way into housing complexes, industrial areas, public places, and defunct garages. The officials added that they rescue around 20 different species of snakes on a daily basis. "The Vasai-Virar area always had snakes but their entry into residential areas has been observed only after the flood," Vishal Shirke, Arnala fire station officer told mid-day.

Fire brigade officials have now involved snake rescuers who help them to catch the reptiles and release them in the Tungareshwar jungle. A fireman and snake catcher of Vasai, Prasad Patil, said, "There are over 176 firemen in VVCMC and almost everyone is a snake catcher. Our official roaster is prepared in a way that at least two snake catchers are available in the shift."

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"Till date our officials across six fire centres have rescued several species of snakes — cobra, python, Russell's Viper, green snake, Ptyas mucosa (rat snake) etc — from different locations. The cobra, python and rat snakes are most common," said Patil. Vishal Kolekar, snake rescuer and animal welfare committee official of Maharashtra state, said, "This is because of the flooding of their dens and burrows. Also, because of soil subsistence and blockage by debris, the snakes are being forced to find new places for food and shelter." Kolekar rescues a minimum of three to four snakes every day. Thankfully there have been no casualties in the area yet.

Cobra, python and rat snakes are among the most common species rescued from the Vasai-Virar belt
Cobra, python and rat snakes are among the most common species rescued from the Vasai-Virar belt

Residents speak
Kunal Raur of Dattani village, Vasai, said, "Today a cobra has been rescued from the backyard of my house and this is not the first incident in my locality." On Friday, Raut spotted the snake and immediately called his friend Kolekar who rushed to the spot to rescue the reptile. Another resident Jagdish Gauda said, "A cobra was rescued from the dashboard of a bike that was undergoing repair at a garage in Vasai West. When the vehicle's owner handed it over to me, he had asked me to be careful, as some locals had spotted a snake entering the vehicle. The snake was later rescued with the help of snake catchers."

The rescued reptiles are released in the Tungareshwar jungle
The rescued reptiles are released in the Tungareshwar jungle

Species of snakes found in the area
. Cobra
. Python
. Russell's Viper
. Green snake
. Ptyas mucosa (rat snake)

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