India — Repeated fires at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli have left officials flummoxed and a dead bamboo plantation is adding to the problem.
“Nearly 25 hectares of the forest land has been burnt in the fires that started last week. On Mahashivratri day, there was a huge fire in the Tungareshwar area. There are bamboo trees across the forests,” said an official. According to him, nearly 10 to 15% of the bamboos are dead. “We cannot remove them as they are located in a national park governed by stringent forest laws.”
Most of these fires are started by slum-dwellers who have encroached on park land on the periphery. Despite several court orders from May 7, 1997, nothing has been done to remove the slums, officials said.
Forest department sources said that one of the officers who operate from the hut opposite Tulsi lake is more interested in selling off forest land to slumlords rather than tackling forest fires, but P N Munde, the parks director refutes this charge.
Munde said that they have kept over 100 labourers, three tankers and four jeeps for the three-month summer season to combat forest fires.