A major fire suspected to have been triggered by tribal people residing within the forest area on Monday charred about 10,000 hectares of forest in the heart of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
Forest officials said around 30 SGNP guards recently posted to keep vigil in the area doused the fire by evening. The fire had spread from Chena region close to Nagla Block,a protected forest area,they said.
The region is partially mountainous,with thick jungle on one side and mangroves on the other. Hemant Tripathi,an environmental consultant said,Forest fires are common here because local adivasis frequent the area for wood. While many fires were suspected to have been caused by people,the region is also prone to natural fires,especially on the hilly terrain.
P N Munde,conservator of SGNP,Borivali,said recently the forest department had deployed guards across SGNP to keep an eye on suspicious activities.
Forest fires are regular in certain areas of the forest in this season. Some of them are started by locals either to build roads or for farming. Over the past week,several fires had been spotted and doused immediately. But last week,a fire destroyed a large patch of forest at VIhar lake area,said Tripathi.