By Adnan H. Attarwala
As the plan for deploying commandos at the entry and exit points at Borivili’s Sanjay Gandhi Naitonal Park (SGNP) is under way, forest officials have now proposed to the SGNP authority to enforce much-needed security at Madhuban gate at Yeoor forest, Tungareshwar and Manpada that provide entry points in the forest from Thane region by positioning commandos there.
Last month, the SGNP authority had proposed to employ armed commandos from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation on a full-time basis to guard the entry and exit points for the protection of the park and wild animals and to prevent people from entering the protected areas. The centre has budgeted over Rs 1 crore for hiring the commandos at the park.
Forest officials claim that the nuisance at Yeoor and Tungareshwar is going unreported as there is little done to implement tough security measures there. According to them, the forest at Yeoor range is being destroyed due to encroachment, random fires, trespassing and other illegal activities that also disturb the wildlife.
“We have written to the authority to deploy guards at the Yeoor gate, Tungareshwar and also Madhuban gate. The forest department have been facing many problems as people come here and party till late night refusing to follow rules. Also there has been no control over vehicles entering the protected areas, which is dangerous for the wildlife, as there has been many road kills in the past. The guards if deployed here will also be of great help in preventing encroachments,” said Sanjay Waghmode, RFO, Yeeor Range.
“Thane is an open area and there are several entry points including Yeoor, Chena, Chindipada and Nagla. There are VIP bungalows in the forest and politicians at times enter after 11 pm creating nuisance. This is something that needs to be stopped. We have been requesting the forest department to install night vision cameras in the core forest areas at Yeoor along with additional forest guards. The lack of patrolling and CCTV vigilance has increased illegal activities in the forest,” said SGNP activist, Krishna Tiwari.
Speaking to ADC, SGNP’s chief conservator and director, Anwar Ahmed said, “Nuisance and security at the park are two different issues and we have much control over the former, which falls under Environment Protection Act, 1986. The deployment of the commandos at Borivili is being done on experimental basis as we’ll have to study its prospects and the response it gets.”