Chennai: While the trek at Kurangani hills in Theni district conducted by the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) took a deadly turn on Sunday with the forest fire killing 10 of 36 trekkers, the loss could have been curbed to some extent if CTC had obtained permission from the forest department, say registered players in trekking business.
For permission, one has to submit details to the forest department on number of people going for the trek, their names, contact numbers and registration number of the vehicle being used.
In this case, firstly the department wouldn't have given permission as, in the months of March, April and May; high forest ranges are dry with the possibility of forest fires spreading fast. Even if the permission were given, the damage could have been curbed, as it would have helped them decide the right number of workforce to be sent for the rescue.
“When the forest department was informed about the fire on Sunday, they thought there wouldn't be more than 10 people and deployed 20 people to carry the rescue operations. To their dismay, there were as many as 36 people stuck in the fire and the rescue had to be done in two trips, thereby delaying the operation and increasing the damage. At least people could have been saved from severe burn injuries and number of deceased would have certainly reduces as the forest department deploys people within an hour,” said the Chief Executive Officer of one of the prominent trekking clubs in the city.
Places trekked often with no permission include Meghamalai, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Vagamon and Munnar. While accidents are a common site, they go unnoticed as most of the trekking clubs are non-registered and include “little number of people”.
“The laws must be made stringent and people opting to trek must check the credibility of the organisation and if they have obtained all permissions for the trek. This would have a huge impact on the industry for a really long time. Accidents can happen anywhere, but the loss can certainly be controlled,” said Manoj Suriya, Founder, Tent N Trek Private limited.
Prevent fires in forest in future, says Kamal
Makkal Needhi Maiam founder-president Kamal Haasan also condoled the death of the 10 persons in the forest inferno and said the government should take concrete steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future