Fires continue to rage in Goa's Mhadei wildlife sanctuary; could be deliberate act, says Goa CM

CM Pramod Sawant said there is a possibility that some people set the fire as a part of their cashew plantation management, which is illegal.

Published: 10th March 2023 02:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th March 2023 02:04 PM   |  A+A-

Fires-Goa's Mhadei wildlife sanctuary

Indian Navy helicopters dousing fires in Goa's Mhadei wildlife sanctuary. (Photo | Goa Naval Area Twitter)

By Agencies

PANAJI: Multiple fires continue to rage inside the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, known for its rich bio-diversity, in North Goa. The sanctuary, located in the north-eastern part of the state along the border with Karnataka, has been witnessing fires at multiple sites for the past six days.

State Forest Minister Vishwajit Rane said it appears to be a "man-made incident".

The fires are being kept under control through the joint efforts of the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and the forest department, state minister Vishwajit Rane said on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said action would be taken against forest guards if the inquiry finds them guilty of dereliction of duty and the people responsible for the fire. He said that there is a possibility that some people set the fire as a part of their cashew plantation management, which is illegal.

Apart from fire in Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, fire incidents from other places of the coastal state have also been reported.

"Fire incidents are taking place at various places. I have instructed officials to register an FIR against those who light fires in forests intentionally. We will not tolerate such cases," the Chief Minister said.

Sawant on Tuesday night had chaired a meeting of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) given the infernos raging inside the sanctuary for the last four days, where Indian Navy helicopters were deployed to survey the affected areas.

Fire and Emergency Services and forest department personnel have so far failed to control the blaze which continued to spread to more areas.

Sawant said all efforts are being made to control the fire. The chief minister said an inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the fire and also the role, if any, of forest guards concerned.

"If any forest guard is found to have failed in his duty, he would be immediately suspended," Sawant added. After chairing the meeting, the chief minister visited the fire-ravaged sites along with Vishwajit Rane and MLA Deviya Rane.

Fire-dousing operations on

State Forest Minister Vishwajit Rane said forest department officials are inside the sanctuary as part of the dousing operations, and, as on Thursday, there are three minor fires active in the area.

"A total of 28 fires were put out on Wednesday. Minor fires at Satrem and Derodem are being doused by Indian Navy helicopters," the minister informed.

The Indian Navy has deployed helicopters, with 'Large Area Aerial Liquid Dispersion Equipment' mounted on them, to carry out sorties since Tuesday to douse the fires, a defence spokesperson said.

"Special gear LAALDE (Large Area Aerial Liquid Dispersion Equipment) used by helicopter for this operation was mobilized by Indian Navy from Mumbai and Kochi immediately on receipt of information on 06 Mar from State Forest Dept. More than 26 runs were made over affected areas," the Navy tweeted.

(With PTI, ANI inputs)


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