The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has witnessed fewer forest fires this summer as compared to last year, as park officials received fire protection funds on time, allowing them to employ a sizeable labour force to prevent the fires.
Rs 57 lakh was allotted for fire prevention in the national park, while Rs 28 lakh was allotted to the Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary.
In 2012, the allotment of fire protection funds was delayed, said officials from SGNP.
“This year we employed vagrants who loiter in the park to help us out with dousing forest fires, and a portion of labour was drawn from the Akurli and Khindipada areas,” said Sunil Limaye, director, SGNP.
“A force of 100 people was assigned the job of preventing the fires from spreading, as the blazes often spiral out of
control owing to lack of manpower to control them at the vulnerable spots.”
By the end of February, SGNP staffers finished the task of fire-line cutting: cutting off the dry and dead shrubs and grass that catch fire easily.
Doing this helps restrict the blaze to a limited area.
Compared to last year’s count of 109 forest fires, which scorched 156.81 hectares, SGNP and Tungareshwar combined have witnessed only 81 fires up till now – with 118.80 hectares affected – with only a couple of weeks to go before the onset of the monsoon.
The total monetary loss this summer from fire damage has been Rs59,900, as opposed to Rs78,006 last summer.
This year, the biggest forest fire was witnessed in the evening of March 4, near Film city in Goregaon (East). The blaze, caused in part by the high air temperatures that day (39.1 degrees Celsius), had spread inside the park at Chena bridge and Rawalpada, damaging around six hectares of forest.
However, the maximum number of forest fires this year have occurred at the Yeoor range and the Tulsi range.