Forest fires are destroying Aarey - we need a Fire Brigade, and we need Mumbai Police to take action against acts of arson.
The forest fire incidents at Aarey have increased in recent times and rather than stray incidents these are deliberate acts for the purpose of expanding real estate projects, slums and to delegitimize voices raised to protect Mumbai’s rich wildlife and biodiversity.
Since the start of the dry season in February 2022, silent and undocumented rise in the number of deliberate forest fires(45 and counting) in the Aarey colony, an area of over 830 acres of forests and biodiversity. Declared as a reserve forest, there has been an unexplained delay in the revenue department handing over the area to the forest department.
Saving these forests, trees, and habitat for wildlife requires one other intervention to protect the forests from miscreants. We need to have the Mumbai Police, Forest Department and the municipal corporation take the issue seriously and investigate every incident of deliberate fires being started in the dry season.
The easiest way to remove a forest and sell off the land is to burn it down. It is hard to prove that it is deliberate deforestation and is less likely to draw the same slack as cutting down a tree in broad daylight. Empty land attracts human settlement which in turn pushes the forest back into secluded islands, till the next dry season.
We need to use the power of you, the citizen, to hold relevant authorities accountable. We need to investigate every incident of these deliberate fires and bring the guilty to justice. This would in the long run act as a deterrent of this annual carnage we see at Aarey.
Activate your power and help us in demanding the following:
Mumbai police legally investigates the instances and holds parties responsible for arson and pursues legal action
Immediate handing over of the designated area to the forest department.
Collaboration between Forest Department, Fire Brigade and Dairy Trust to set up citizens fire helpline.
Inauguration of the fire brigade in presence of forest department, dairy, BMC, panchayat and media persons on set date.
Your word will reach :
The Mumbai Police commissioner to set up a protocol to investigate cases of fires in the Aarey Colony area.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC) to set up a protocol for the dry season in which educational tours are organised to study changes in flora during the summer months. This will also help create awareness and a monitoring system of the area.
The Mumbai fire brigade to set up the Aarey Fire Station on priority and collaborate with the Dairy and forest department to act quickly and decisively in the event of being notified of a fire.
Forest Department officials of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park to improve communication with the fire brigade, improve patrolling and maintenance of CCTV cameras in the area.
Advocacy efforts with Aditya Thackeray, the Minister for tourism and the environment, Maharashtra government bringing forth the urgency of the matter and taking steps to include the citizen’s voice in the form of the fire helpline to save the forests of Aarey from this fire induced deforestation.
We set up a citizen fire helpline as a collaborated effort of Aarey dairy, Aarey fire brigade and the forest department that logs citizen reporting of fire incidents. The fire brigade in collaboration with the forest department systematically puts out fires on each complaint
Send the ministry a report on the issue demanding setting up of the helpline along with ordering police to produce records of previous arson incidents and an action plan to investigate the instances recorded by the helpline.
Monthly publishing of the call records that came to the helpline and action taken thereafter.