A day after at least 10 trekkers died in a forest fire in Theni, Kerala’s Chief Secretary and the Chairman of the Disaster Management Authority issued a notice temporarily banning all trekking programmes in the state.
The message was conveyed through an official circular released by the state government, which also ordered full clearance to fire lines.
“All programmes, like trekking, in which members of public are taken inside forest areas will be suspended forthwith. No movement of members of public inside forest areas, without permission, will be allowed,” said the official circular.
The circular also said that the visitors, when certain areas if re-opened later, will not be allowed to carry flammable materials.
“Visitors will not be allowed to take match boxes, lighters or any flammable materials into the forests. This should be checked and ensured before visitors enter the forest. The staff/watchers accompanying visitors will also take sufficient precautions for personal safety, including wearing of cotton clothes, carrying sufficient quantity of water, wireless/mobile connections,” read the circular.
Kerala Minister for Tourism Kadakampally Surendran took to Facebook to announce the temporary ban on trekking.
"In the wake of what happened in Theni, the government of Kerala has decided to put a temporary ban on all trekking programmes to the forests of Kerala." - Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala Tourism Minister
കേരള അതിർത്തിയിലെ തേനിയില് ട്രക്കിംഗ് നടത്താനെത്തിയവര് കാട്ടുതീയിലകപ്പെട്ട് മരിച്ച സംഭവത്തില് അതിയായ ദുഃഖം...Posted by Kadakampally Surendran on Sunday, March 11, 2018
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also put out a Facebook post to express his grief.
“I express my grief with regard to the forest fire incident in Theni. Soon after the state learnt of the fire, the government instructed the Idukki District Collector to help the Tamil Nadu forces with the rescue mission,” read the CM’s post.
“The Forest Department in the state (Kerala) is also alerted to take the necessary precautions to avoid such incidents in the future. Trekking programmes to the forest areas in the state will be put on hold momentarily,” added the CM.
തമിഴ്നാട്ടിലെ തേനി കൊരങ്ങണി മലയിലെ കാട്ടുതീയിൽ അകപ്പെട്ട് ട്രക്കിംഗ് സംഘാംഗങ്ങൾ മരിക്കാനിടയായ സംഭവത്തിൽ അതീവ ദു:ഖം...Posted by Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday, March 11, 2018
As per the latest reports, ten trekkers have been killed in the incident and six others are in critical condition. Meanwhile, around seven people have suffered from minor injured and another seven were lucky enough to escape with no injuries at all.
There were reportedly 37 people including 26 women, 8 men and 3 children as part of the two trek groups. They were on their way back Bodinayyakanur when they got trapped in the forest fire. While one trek group consisted of 13 members hailing from Tiruppur and Erode, and another group of 24 people were from Chennai. The Chennai group had started to Theni on March 9, Friday.
(This article was originally published in The Newsminute.)
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