Week after first blaze, forest fires continue to rage across 11 hills in Goa
The fires have reduced large tracts of Western Ghats forests to ashes and damaged acres of cashew plantations at a time when farmers were gearing up to harvest the crop.
The forest fires at 11 different hills of Western Ghats in Goa continued to rage on Friday — a week after the first blaze was reported at a location within Satrem village of Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary— even as state forest minister Vishwajit Rane said the department was doing “everything it takes to extinguish the fire.”
“The forest department has continued its battle to completely extinguish the fire. There are 11 active flames at the moment, and 512 people are working to put them out,” state forest minister Vishwajit Rane said on Friday.
In addition to the fire at the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, simultaneous fires erupted in other sanctuaries including the Mollem and Netravali Wildlife sanctuaries, people in the know of the matter said.
The fires have reduced large tracts of Western Ghats forests to ashes and damaged acres of cashew plantations at a time when farmers were gearing up to harvest the crop, one of the people quoted above said.
Despite the department taking the help of the navy, the airforce and local volunteers to help douse the flames, the fire continues to rage on.
According to the forest department, a total of 48 fires have been reported since 5 March in the government forests, private lands, comunidade (common lands) areas, and private forests.
By Thursday evening, seven fires were active, however, the number has now increased to 11, said the people. Only two active fires were doused on Friday.
Even as the Goa government has ordered a probe into the forest fires, minister Rane said that the fires appeared to be “man-made”.
“These are man-made fires. There seems to be no other explanation. We have discussed it a lot and the report will come,” Rane said.
Goa, much like the rest of the country, has been witnessing above average temperatures since February with the maximum temperature ranging between 5 to 7°C above normal for this time of the year.
According to the Met department the ongoing weather anomaly is “because of the strengthening of easterly winds, clear sky conditions and delay in setting time of sea breeze” and similar conditions are expected to continue at least until March 15.
On Friday Goa witnessed a maximum temperature of 36°C which is 3.6°C above normal while the minimum temperature was 21.5°C which is 11°C below normal for this time of the year.