Mumbai: Environmentalists demand old fire station at Aarey be restarted, while agencies try and dodge responsibilities

Owing to the frequent fire incident at the Aarey forest, green activists and local residents had been writing to the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) since February, this year urging the authorities to restart a fire station inside the forest area.

Earlier, FPJ had reported that since the past one year, frequent fire incidents have been reported from the multiple locations inside the Aarey forest. Locals said, there was a fire fighting station inside the forest area, which was discontinued ten years ago. They added, incase a fire breaks out, help generally comes from the fire stations at Marol (Andheri) or Goregaon east, now that there is no local fire station nearby.

A local environment conservation group - 'Youth For Aarey' (YFA) had written to the Deputy Fire Officer - Mumbai urging the authorities to restart the discontinued fire station. Meanwhile, in a response letter sent to the YFA group, the MFB said that it’s the responsibility of the Aarey dairy department that has the responsibility of setting up the fire station.

"This is to inform you that earlier fire station Aarey was owned and managed by the dairy department. Hence, your letter in this regard is forwarded to chief executive officer - Aarey Colony, Goregaon east," said the letter.

When contacted, Nathu Rathod - CEO of Aarey dairy department said that even though the building of the station is still there but there's no infrastructure.

"The building of the fire station is only there in the forest, there is no fire engines or water tankers, incase there is a fire we call the BMC directly which then sends its engines," Rathod told FPJ.

"Most of the fires caused inside the forests are caused due to interference of tribals and are not major fires and they are doused in time, so there is no plan to start a new fire station or restart the old one anytime soon," he added.

"If the MFB thinks it’s the responsibility of CEO and if the CEO thinks that they are unequipped, then they should talk and sort the matter. Instead of doing so they push the ball in each other's court while there continues to be loss of ecology," said a member of YFA group - requesting anonymity.

"The fire incidents are becoming very common if they are not dealt seriously now then it will cause loss of habitat in the future," he added.

Sanjiv Valsan another environmentalist said that he had written to the local police station and the CEO multiple times, however no response have come from their end so far.

"Areas like Tapeshwar Mandir, Dindoshi Hills and Aarey guest house are known for frequent fires, there is a fire almost every day and in most of the days myself along with local volunteers have to extinguish it as the fire engines take time to arrive," Valsan told FPJ.

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