Environmentalists and residents living close to the Aarey Milk Colony, Goregaon, have alleged there have been frequent fires in the area over the past two weeks.
Locals claimed some people started a fire near the Aarey Garden restaurant on Thursday.
Vinayak Prabhu, resident of Goregaon, found a patch of trees with the lower half of their barks burnt near the Aarey guesthouse on Thursday. Prabhu said he went to a police chowkie close to the spot to file a complaint. “The police said they could not prevent such incidents because they take place after dark. But the chowkie is manned day and night,” he said.
The Aarey police denied the claim. “We have not received complaints of any fire on Thursday. But there was a fire on Wednesday close to the BMC hospital. It may have happened because of a cigarette carelessly thrown into the dry leaves,” said Rajendra Pise, constable, Aarey police station.
Environmentalists feel the fires may be deliberate. “These fires seem unusually frequent. It looks like a deliberate attempt to destroy Aarey’s landscape,” said environmentalist Stalin D.
However, some environmentalists say the fires are lit by locals. “Locals light fires to catch rabbits and small birds. I had complained to Aarey staff about this, who said these were controlled fires to prevent a major blaze because of dry grass and foliage,” said environmentalist Biju Augustein.