A few doused, but Goa wildfires continue | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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A few doused, but Goa wildfires continue

Mar 12, 2023 04:44 AM IST

At least 48 fires have been reported since March 5 in government forests, private land, common land and private forests, according to the state forest department.

PANAJI/NEW DELHI: Goa’s efforts to douse wildfires made some progress on Saturday after the resumption of aerial firefighting excursions, state forest minister Vishwajit Rane said. The Union environment ministry has, meanwhile, sought an inquiry into the reasons behind the fires.

The forest fires were first noticed at a location in Satrem village of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary nearly seven days ago. (HT)
The forest fires were first noticed at a location in Satrem village of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary nearly seven days ago. (HT)

At least 48 fires have been reported since March 5 in government forests, private land, common land and private forests, according to the state forest department. Till Friday, there were 11 active wildfires, and 512 officials were working to put them out.

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Highlighting that aerial firefighting has successfully put out 14 fires engulfing hills of the Western Ghats, Rane said: “The Indian Air Force has started its sorties since the first light of the day today. It has been very effective and useful, and has supported the efforts of the ground team in dousing the ongoing fires in Goa.” However, nine fires remain active, some of them minor, while the state expects that lower temperatures and increased humidity predicted for the next week will help contain the flames.

Taking note of the matter, the Union environment ministry said that authorities have been “addressing the local occurrences of fires on topmost priority and mobilising men and material to ensure that the fire spots are contained and loss to life and property, including natural resources is kept at nought/bare minimum”. “All officials concerned have been placed on high alert, the situation is being reviewed from close quarters and necessary instructions are being issued from time to time to all responsible officers.”

One person was detained on Saturday for attempting to start a fire on the outskirts of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, a spokesperson of the Goa police said.

The forest fires were first noticed at a location in Satrem village of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary nearly seven days ago. The wildfire soon spread to other locations in the sanctuary, while fires erupted simultaneously in several other sanctuaries, including the Mollem and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries.

Described as the worst forest fires in living memory, the flames have reduced large tracts of Western Ghats forests, usually resistant to fires being tropical moist forests, to ashes. They have also ranged through acres of cashew plantations at a time when farmers were gearing up to harvest a bumper crop.

The Goa government has ordered a probe into the forest fires. Earlier this week, Rane said: “This is a man-lit fire. There seems to be no other explanation.” “We have discussed it a lot and the report will come.”

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