After Aarey Colony blaze, forest minister wants to draw ‘fire line’ around Sanjay Gandhi National Park

After Aarey Colony blaze, forest minister wants to draw ‘fire line’ around Sanjay Gandhi National Park

14 December 2018

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INDIA – After frequent fires around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), the state forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Thursday directed officials to draw a fire line around it to prevent the spread of fire from any adjoining area to the protected forest in Mumbai.

A fire line is made by digging a trench on a strip of land, which is cleared off plantation, so that fire can be stopped on either side.

Forest officials said the SGNP has a primary fire line, which will now be strengthened considering repeated fire incidents. The SGNP is the city’s biggest green area.

On December 4, a massive fire broke out on a private plot near Aarey Milk Colony near Goregaon. It took 14 hours for the fire brigade to douse the fire completely. Initially, there were reports that the land belonged to the state government, following which Mungantiwar on Wednesday held a meeting to look in to the matter.

“It was a private land and has nothing to do with the state government. However, considering frequent fires, I have directed the officials to come up with a proper fire line across SGNP to protect the national park from any such untoward incident,” Mungantiwar said.

SGNP is a national park spread across 103 square km in the north-western suburbs in Mumbai. Home to variety of flora and fauna, the national park has over 40 leopards in an around it. It is one of the only bio-diversity hotspots located within the city limits.

Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator of forest (CCF), SGNP, said the national park has a fire line, which they are now going to strengthen to avoid fire spreading into SGNP. “The SGNP does have a fire line, but now we will identify locations where fires are frequently reported and strengthen those areas by making the line more fire-resistant.

The national park currently has fire lines across approximately the 150-km length of the park, according to officials, “Fire lines are divided into three categories — primary, secondary and tertiary. We have a primary fire line using trenches across the peripheral boundaries of the park. Secondary and tertiary fire lines using bushes or other plantations have been built in core areas to protect biodiversity,” said Dinesh Singh, assistant conservator of forest, SGNP.

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