Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan expressed his sympathies for families of the victims of the Kurangani forest fire in Theni district of Tamil Nadu. Speaking to reporters, Palaniswami said the trekking expedition had been done without getting the necessary permission from the Forest Department.
With no escape route in sight, all she and another girl could spot was a "valley-like" formation and they immediately jumped there to avoid the fire, she said even as others "fell" on them but sustained burns. Besides, the permission was given only if the trekkers had proper guides from the area, they added. The trekking team included 25 women, 8 men and 3 children.
"There are check-posts in the forest but many people enter through different regions", he said.
On the contrary, the state government had stated that the trekkers lack permits from the forest department.
The Karnataka Forest Department has banned trekking in forests in the State till the end of summer. The forest fire, in which two groups of trekkers were caught, has claimed nine lives. Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that from Monday early dawn the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters put out the blaze in a limited area to enable rescue and airlift operations.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Raghuveer said in a statement that the department will involve all stakeholders including government employees, Green Brigade members and Haritha Rakshana Samithies in its efforts to prevent forest fires.
"Responding to the request from the Hon @CMOTamilNadu on the forest -fire related issue -20 students are caught in Kurangani, Theni district". Speaking to the media on Sunday, Baldev had said more than 20 trekkers were from the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) and the others from Erode and Tiruppur. Police have reportedly taken into custody the tour organiser. Eight commandos had already reached the top and had started dousing the fire, it said.