Maharashtra environment minister seeks probe into forest fire near Aarey Colony


Maharashtra’s environment minister Ramdas Kadam has demanded a probe into the fire near Aarey Colony forest, which destroyed vegetation on nearly 60 acres, to ascertain whether it was an accident or arson

Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam, on December 4, 2018, demanded a probe into the massive fire near the Aarey Colony forest in suburban Goregaon, to ascertain whether it was a mere accident or pre-planned. He claimed that the inferno destroyed vegetation on nearly 60 acres of land in the area. The fire tenders took about six hours to douse the flames, which were aided by winds coming from the hills.

The blaze had erupted on December 3, 2018, near the Aarey Colony forest, triggering alarm as various agencies scrambled to douse the flames that threatened to affect the tribal residents in the city’s biggest green lung. Mumbai’s famous Film City occupies part of the colony, which is located off the Western Express Highway.

See also: Can Mumbai afford the environmental damage caused by Aarey deforestation?

Kadam said the Forest Department should conduct a probe into the incident. “I am doubtful about the causes of the fire that destroyed vegetation on over 60 acres of land. It should be probed, whether it was an accident or someone purposefully set it ablaze,” he said.

“The forest department should initiate an inquiry into the incident. I am going to raise the issue with forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar,” Kadam said. Aarey Colony, which is spread over 16 sq kms, includes 12 villages.

 


 

Huge fire breaks out near Mumbai’s Aarey Colony forest

A major fire has broken out near Mumbai’s biggest green area, the Aarey Colony forest and is threatening to affect tribal residents and residential areas in its vicinity

December 4, 2018: A major fire erupted, on December 3, 2018, near the Aarey Colony forest in suburban Goregaon in Mumbai, triggering alarm as various agencies scrambled to douse the flames that threaten to affect the tribal residents in the city’s biggest green lung. Fire department officials said they are trying to contain the blaze but the winds coming from the hills are aiding the fire and it is spreading to nearby residential areas.

Mumbai’s famous Film City occupies part of the Colony, which is located off the Western Express Highway. Chief fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale said the Disaster Management Control Room has been directed to inform all police stations surrounding the forest, to prepare to evacuate tribal residents and cattle, as and when the need arises. The blaze started around 6:30 pm in an open plot near an IT park along the General Arun Kumar Vaidya Marg in the western suburb, located adjacent to the Colony.

“Fire personnel are trying to put out flames with ‘beaters’ – the branches of trees that are being used to create a fire break, as they have no access to fire appliances,” the officer said. He said the fire started spreading towards residential areas such as New Mhada Colony near New Dindoshi Green Hill Society in Goregaon (east) towards night. “Until 7.30 pm, the blaze remained confined to trees, dry leaves, etc., within a distance of three to four kms from the spot of fire. However, in the night, it started moving towards the residential localities,” he said.

Aarey Colony, which is spread over 16 sq kms, includes 12 villages. Rahangdale said fire vehicles are unable to enter the forested area due to lack of access.

“However, we have managed to put two small hose lines into operation,” he added. “Fire brigade has also roped in forest staff and volunteers, to put out the flames using tree branches,” he said. Rahangdale said the fire appliances are being diverted from the Film City to douse flames.

“A total of 10 fire-fighting engines, seven JTs and three quick response vehicles have been pressed into service. Apart from fire personnel, forest officers and Mumbai police personnel are also helping in putting out flames,” he said. “Many big fire pockets that are located at a far distance (in the forest) are brought under control with the help of fire beaters. In such forest fires, open uphill wind results into rapid spread,” he said, adding that four fire appliances and a jumbo tanker will be kept on standby, till morning.

 

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