INDIA – NAVI MUMBAI: While the recent half-dozen forest fires in Sanjay Gandhi National Park have shocked Mumbaikars, statistics show an astonishingly high number of such incidents in Raigad district. Over 120 cases of forest fires have been reported so far this year from Roha and Alibag divisions.
A Mahad-based environmentalist, Nizamuddin Jalal, said, “I am shocked how so many incidents of forest fires have been happening in Raigad. Some of these fires last for three to four days and forest officials. Besides, these also cause to air pollution and damaging forest property.” Jalan has shot several letters to top officials, stating that these fires were intentional.
The response of the local tehsils and the police has not been positive, as they said it will be hard to find the culprits who start such forest fires. “One police official, in fact, asked me to find those starting the fires. It only appears the activists are getting hyper,” the activist said.
Inquiries made by TOI reveal there were 73 forest fires from January 1 till now in Alibaug, while over 50 such incidents have been registered in Roha division this year. Deputy conservator of forests (Alibaug) Maneesh Kumar said, “Some local villagers who graze their cattle in forest areas start the fire in dry grass. This soon spreads up the hills where it is difficult to be extinguished. We are trying to raise awareness among village panchayats.”