Tamil Nadu

Kurangani effect: no trekking in jungles for 2 months a year

 Sixteen trekkers lost their lives in the forest fire at the Kurangani Hills near Bodinayakkanur in Theni district.

Sixteen trekkers lost their lives in the forest fire at the Kurangani Hills near Bodinayakkanur in Theni district.

The State government has banned trekking between February 15 and April 15 every year.

Notifying the Tamil Nadu Forest and Wildlife Areas (Regulation of Trekking) Rules, 2018, the government has decided to impose the annual ban for the two-month period when incidence of forest fires is high.

The rules have been notified based on an expert committee report in the aftermath of the Kurangani forest fire tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 persons in March early this year.

According to State Forest Department’s ‘Spatial and temporal analysis of decadal forest fire data (2006-2015)’, forest fires start in January, increase in February and peak during March.

Nearly 48% of forest fires in Tamil Nadu were reported during March and 72.4% in February and March. The number of incidents goes down during April and tapers off during the onset of southwest monsoon. At least one fire was detected in 638 beats, of which 21 beats were highly prone to forest fires during the period.

Taking the forest fire data into consideration, the government decided to impose the annual ban on trekking during this period, a senior forest officer said.

During the period in which trekking is permissible, no person shall undertake trekking without obtaining permission from the competent authority (DFOs / Wildlife Wardens).

The violation of this rule would amount to trespassing and would be dealt under TN Forest Act, 1882 and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, as applicable.

Trekking can be only in a linear route and the trekkers should not perambulate in the forests.

Also, the trekkers should not take diversion from the permitted route. Individuals below the age of ten and pregnant women will not be allowed to go on the trekking, which could be undertaken only between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Guides are a must and their numbers will be determined by the size of the group, which will have a minimum of five and a maximum of 15 persons. In tough routes, trekkers should produce a fitness certificate from a certified doctor. A local forest guard or watch will accompany the trekkers besides the guide.

The competent authority will have full discretion to permit the trek, depending on local conditions. They may impose special conditions for trekking in tiger and elephant reserves, based on the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Centre, the State and the area’s management and working plan.

According to Rule 11 (Miscellaneous), the Forest department will not be liable for any kind of loss or injury including loss of life during the trek.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2022 11:43:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/kurangani-effect-no-trekking-in-jungles-for-2-months-a-year/article25430525.ece