Keri: Over the last few years, incidents of patches of forests being cleared have been on the rise within the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary limits in Caranzol, Sattari.
As per the 1991 Census, out of its total area of over 4,000ha, 3,527ha forest cover was in Caranzol. When the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary was declared in 1999, most of Caranzol’s forest area was included within the sanctuary limits. However, till date, the government has not issued the final notification on the sanctuary. Due to this, interferences, encroachments have been continuously on the rise from some villagers and even government agencies.
In September 2015, the Goa Forest Development Corporation had illegally initiated felling of trees and clearing of bushes at Patyar in Caranzol, on the left bank of the Mhadei. Eight trees were felled and bushes cleared in 2.5ha.
In October 2019, a group of villagers from Caranzol took a decision not to allow any forest officials in their village and erected boards declaring ‘no entry for forest officials of Goa government’. Taking advantage of this , illegal felling of trees inside sanctuary areas has be on since.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, in May 2020, large scale illegal tree felling followed by burning of forested area had come to light on the slope of the Huland hill in Caranzol. After the incident was reported by trekkers, range fForest officer Vilas Gawas took suspects Santosh Gawade and Nakul Naik into custody after investigation.
Similarly, on February 19, 2021, five teak trees were felled and attempts were made to carry the logs out of the forests of Kazredhat using a rickshaw. Though the rickshaw involved was seized by the wildlife division, later on JMFC at Valpoi granted bail to the owner of the rickshaw and released the vehicle. In the latest case, on March 15, 2021, range forest officer of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Prabhudesai, booked two offences against unknown persons involved in illegal cutting of trees and destruction of habitat by setting fire. However, so far no culprit has been arrested in the matter.
Deputy conservator of forests of the wildlife division, Jebastin Arulraj, said, “We are making best efforts to curtail the incidents of increasing forest clearances in Caranzol by taking locals into confidence.”
“After the felling of trees and clearing of forest, villagers have been involved in bringing the area under cashew plantation, thereby posing a threat to the natural forest cover as well as to the wildlife habitat,” said Vitthal Shelke, a wildlifer.