Fire broke out in different pockets of Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Tuesday. According to forest officials, they suspect the fire could be man-made caused by encroachers to clear forest land. Divisional Forest Officer P R Masurkar said, “Due to encroachment in the area, there have been instances of fire in the past few days. We arrested one person on Monday for causing the fire and he has been remanded to judicial custody.”
He added that multiple teams of forest officials were sent to the spots to examine the situation. The fire broke out in parts of Thane, including the Ghodbander side near Bhayandarpada as well as parts of Mulund near Yogi Hill. Shashikant Kale, the fire officer of Thane, however, denied that they had received any call of fire caused in the national park.
According to local residents, the fires have been occurring since Monday. “We have been calling the fire department. Although the fire has never been big, the frequency is too high. There is definitely some foul play,” said Harish Shore, a resident of one of the societies near the national park.
A forest official from the Yeoor range confirmed there was a fire on Tuesday evening too. “There was a small fire in the area around 6.30 pm. We extinguished it with the help of nearby tribals. We will have to investigate whether it was a natural fire or man-made,” he said. Environment activists working in the area say such incidents have become common and the fire is generally started by encroachers. “It has become a common occurrence to have several fires in the area during the summer. Most often, these are deliberate fires by encroachers. During summer they think it will be passed off as natural incidents. These fires always happen near the encroachments,” said Rohit Joshi, founder and convenor, Yeoor Environmental Society Popularly known as YES.