A major fire broke out in the foothills of Aravallis on Wednesday around 2pm. No causality was reported.
The fire spread across 5 acres rapidly and gutted a large number of shrubs and bushes. It took combined efforts of four tenders for about an hour to get the fire under control. The cause of the fire is still unclear.
“We got information about the fire and sent four fire tenders to the site to put out the flames. Our officers had a tough time due to difficulty to navigate through the rough terrain,” chief fire officer, IS Kashyap, said.
The fire originated in the interior section of the hills on the Faridabad-Gurgaon road, which lies opposite to the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE). Firefighters faced difficulties reaching the spot due to strong winds and difficult terrain. Dry wood and high temperature during the day spread the flames to a large area, a fireman said.
The area is under a proposed IT special economic zone (SEZ). Onlookers noticed the flames around 2pm in the afternoon and called the fire department.
“We called the fire department but firemen found it difficult to negotiate the terrain,” Prakash, who was in the vicinity, said.
It is significant to note that the area that was affected by the fire falls under ‘gairmumkin pahar’, however it hasn’t been included in the proposed natural conservation zone (NCZ). Also the area comes under section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act and notified under the Environment (protection) Act of 1992, where chopping of trees is not permitted.
Some environmentalists were of the opinion that the fire might have been a deliberate act to clear the land for construction, as the area is owned by private parties.
“It seems rather convenient that a ‘gairmumkin pahar’ area that has been left out of the natural conservation zone has now been burnt. This could be a ploy to try and create a fait accompli situation and avoid having to apply for permissions to cut the trees, which cannot be given. The private party which is involved with the land should not get any benefit from the fire which burnt down trees,” Colonel (retd) SS Oberoi, an environmentalist, said.
“This area is typical gairmumkin area and needs to be protected. It comes under section 4 of PLPA and Aravalli notification under Environment (protection) Act of 1992 ,” MD Sinha, conservator, forest, said.
A similar incident occurred on April 14, wherein fire engulfed 3-4km of green area of the Aravalli hills near Tikli village, which is situated 15km from Gurgaon. A dozen fire tenders were rushed to the area to douse the blaze, which was also reported around 2pm. Firefighters and onlookers said the fire might have been triggered by a short-circuit in the overhead high-tension electricity wires or by a lit cigarette butt. Villagers helped the firemen contain the blaze.