Two-month trekking ban every year in Tamil Nadu
The state government of Tamil Nadu has banned trekking between February 15 and April 15 every year in the aftermath of the Kurangini forest fire, which killed almost twenty tourists earlier in March this year. The rules have been notified based on an expert committee report on the Kurangini fire.
According to ‘Spatial and temporal analysis of decadal forest fire data (2006-2015)’ released by the Tamil Nadu Forest department, forest fires start in January, increase in February and reach its highest point during March. Nearly 48 per cent of forest fires in Tamil Nadu were reported during March and February, which together saw about 72 per cent of the total number of forest fires in the state. The number of incidents decreases during April and gradually phases out during southwest monsoon.
Taking the forest fire data into consideration, the government decided to impose the annual ban on trekking during this period. The notified rules also make it mandatory to obtain relevant permission from forest department officers before setting out on a trek to TN forests. Violating the rule would be considered as trespassing and the persons would be liable for prosecution accordingly. The rules also restrict the trekking timings from 6 am to 5 pm.
Trekkers are allowed to only follow a linear route and are advised not to divert from the permitted route. Individuals below the age of 10 and pregnant women will not be allowed to go trekking. At least one guide and a local forest guard or watch should be present with every trekking group, and each group must have a minimum of five and a maximum of 15 persons. Trekkers going on tough routes must produce a fitness certificate from a certified doctor.