Mysuru: The Karnataka Forest Department has banned trekking in forests in the State till the end of summer. This decision was taken at a meeting of High-Level State Forest officials yesterday in Bengaluru in the wake of forest fire at Kurangini Hills in Theni district of Tamil Nadu where 10 trekkers perished.
In a circular issued by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Punati Sridhar to the Conservator of Forests of Bandipur, Nagarahole, Bhadra, BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, a Tiger Reserve and Kali Tiger Reserve, the circular said that no trekking will be allowed in any of these forest areas till the summer season ends or it rains during these months.
The circular also states that stringent action would be taken against those found trekking illegally in the forests when the ban is in force. The Department has also made it clear that only those who are physically fit to handle the terrain and help forest staff during emergencies like forest fire can trek in the forests during dry season.
As summer months are the peak tourist season, the Department offices across Karnataka are flooded with applications from wildlife enthusiasts seeking permission for trekking. However, they are being turned away, stating that there is shortage of monitoring staff. And with the forest fire in Tamil Nadu killing the trekkers, the Forest Department has become more strict and has banned trekking.
There are many local residents and religious leaders who are also seeking permission to enter the forests to perform rituals. But they too are being denied entry, said a source in the Forest Department.