Though the officials have maintained that the trekkers entered the ‘protected zones’ without permission, it has exposed the lack of monitoring by the forest department.
Vijay Krishnaraj, a wildlife activist and former secretary of Nilgiris Wildlife and Environmental Association said “More number of people trek in the protected areas in the forests without getting permission. Further, around 50 per cent of field staff like watcher and rangers lie vacant in the forest department. If there are enough staff in every Reserve Forest, those staff can help save the tourists during an emergency.”
A senior forest official, who preferred anonymity, said that they have alerted the Conservators of Forests and District Forest Officers (DFOs) to follow up on parameters for all kind of tours like trekking and camping. “We have also instructed officials to deny permission for tourists, who flout the norms. Further, all the forest rangers and watchers are instructed to step in vigilance on trespassers into the forest areas,” the official said.