Avoiding another fiery disaster in Tamil Nadu

Adventure sports come with a risk as you ought to be prepared to take on the unknown.

Published: 14th March 2018 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2018 02:27 AM   |  A+A-

Adventure sports come with a risk as you ought to be prepared to take on the unknown. But try telling that to the families of the young trekkers scorched by a fire at the Kurangani Reserve Forest in the Western Ghats in Theni district of Tamil Nadu, 500 km from Chennai, and they wouldn’t have bargained for it. At last count, 11 of the 36 trekkers died in the surprise Sunday forest fire and seven others were battling for life in hospitals with severe burn injuries.

Trekking expeditions require prior approval from the forest and wildlife authorities, but the organisers apparently did not bother to do the paperwork. Had they sought permission, they could have been alerted to the spurt of forest fires in the vicinity—as many as 30 of them in a week, which was exclusively reported by TNIE. The fires were tracked by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) in Hyderabad using satellites.

Sunday’s disastrous blaze was first noticed by NRSC at 2 pm and conveyed to the forest authorities immediately. NRSC has a system of sending text alerts to cut the disaster response time but strangely TN is yet to share its territorial forest officials’ mobile numbers with it, according to ISRO director K Sivan, which is appalling. Whether or not Sunday’s alert would have been useful when technically forest officials were not even aware of the trekkers’ presence in the heart of Kurangani is debatable, but creating a mobile alert network is the most sensible thing to do.

On the positive side, there was good Centre-state synergy as Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responded to CM Edappadi K Palaniswami’s SOS immediately by deploying IAF helicopters and Garud commandos immediately. That Bodi happened to be Deputy CM O Panneerselvam’s constituency helped, as the state put its full might behind the rescue operations. A robust regulatory mechanism for adventure sport is the crying need of the hour. And TN must iron out its issues with NRSC and immediately get its SMS tracker of forest fires rolling.

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp