Stirring a controversy in the forest fire tragedy that took lives of 9 people in Kurangani forest near Theni in Tamil Nadu, the survivors have claimed that they had the permit to trek from the forest department. On the contrary, the state government had stated that the trekkers lack permits from the forest department. As per reports, one of the organisers of the second group of the trekkers submitted an affidavit to the local police which claimed that that the 12-member team paid an entry fee of Rs 200 per head at the forest department check post in Munthal, before proceeding to climb the Kurangani trail.
D Prabhu, the Erode-based organiser for the trekking, filed the affidavit after the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Miniter O Panneerselvam told reporters that the trekkers did not have any permission from the forest department. According to an official, one o the group had actually paid the entry fee at the forest check post. It was also reported that the trekkers took another route and did not follow the trail they had paid the fee for. But, as per Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), the trekkers deviated from the route to escape the forest fire.
Meanwhile, 27 people have been rescued so far, out of which 9 succumbed to severe burns while 18 are undergoing treatment. The state government has ordered to ban trekking in the forest with an immediate effect until monsoon sets in. Tamil Nadu CM Edapadi Palani Sami has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh for next of kin of those died and Rs 1 lakh for people with serious injuries and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.
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