India — A controversy is raging over a fire that is said to have killed some deer and damaged acres of forests in Sagreshwar Sanctuary near Sangli. NGOs related to the sanctuary say some animals were burnt to death on February 15, but forest officials deny such reports.
Reports reaching Mumbai through NGOs said an intentional fire in the man-made sanctuary forest had completely burnt several acres of forest area as well.
However, when contacted, Saiprakash, Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Kolhapur, said, It is true it is an intentional fire. Some parts of the forest have been burnt, but there are no reports of animal loss.
The Additional Conservator of Forest (ACF), who has conducted an inquiry into the matter too, has confirmed that there is no animal loss.
The 10,000-hectare sanctuary was created after identifying the area for forestation through the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS). To create a habitat for the wildlife, a deer park, too, was put in place. However, due to lack of funds, no proper fencing could be installed. This led to the deer crossing the forest limits and grazing in the neighbouring villages. Similarly, women from the villages, too, started entering the forest to collect firewood. Even the grazing of cattle, which is prohibited, became a routine feature.
This led to frequent fights between forest officials and villagers. Maybe, some villagers put the forest on fire and caused the damage but everything is now under control and forest and animals are safe, said Saiprakash, while talking to DNA from his Kolhapur office over phone.
A case has been registered against three persons, but a further investigation is on, say the Conservator of Forest.
Trouble in the fast track
10,000-hectare sanctuary was created after identifying area through the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS); A deer park too was put in place to create habitat for the wildlife.
No fencing could be installed due to lack of funds.
Women from neighbouring villages came to forest to collect firewood.
Grazing of cattle, which is prohibited, became a routine feature.
Frequent fights erupted between village and forest officials.