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Tamil Nadu forest fire: No permission for expedition, says CM Palaniswami

Ten people, who were part of the trekking team, were killed in the incident on Saturday.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 22:29 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Salem/Chennai
Tamil Nadu,Forest fire,Palaniswami
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam meets the injured who were caught in a forest fire in Tamil Nadu's Theni district, admitted at the Bodi public hospital, in Madurai on early Monday. (PTI Photo)

The trekkers caught in a forest fire in the Western Ghat’s Kurangani Hill ranges did not have permission for an expedition, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami said on Monday.

Ten people, who were part of the trekking team, were killed in the incident on Saturday.

“Without permission, they embarked on a trekking expedition. Trekkers should climb hills only after taking the government’s nod,” the chief minister said here.

Stern action would be taken in the future against trekkers who undertake such expeditions without the state’s permission, he said.

During the summer months of March, April and May permission for trekking is not given as the high forest ranges are dry and there is a possibility of forest fires spreading fast, he said.

The chief minister told reporters that a probe had been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire and how it spread.

Of the injured, five are in Theni and the rest in Madurai, he said, adding he will visit the injured at Madurai later in the day. The 36-member-team comprised 24 people from Chennai and 12 from Tirupur and Erode districts.

Organiser’s office in chennai closed

Meanwhile, Chennai police on Monday found that the office of the ‘volunteer’ organisation believed to have arranged the ill-fated trekking expedition was closed.

The website of the organisation also did not have details of those managing its affairs.

Splashed with photographs of various trekking expeditions, some clean-up drives and pictures of adventure sports besides references to several social initiatives, the website, however, did not mention of any contact number, the police said.

The ‘Contact Us’ column merely gave out an e-mail ID while the group claimed it was a “non-profit, volunteer-based group which organises outdoor, sports, environmental conservation and social activities throughout the year on weekends and weekday mornings”, added the police.

The hills are in the Western Ghats about 40 km from Theni.

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 22:29 IST