12 December 2006

Fire Starter

The greatest danger to all reforestation programmes being undertaken at Arunachala is the possibility of fire. The fires are mostly man-made. In previous years wood cutters would raze dry existing grass on the Hill to promote new growth. Sometimes the fire was caused by people out of the superstitious believe that setting the Hill alight would somehow benefit their health or prospects.

What previously was shrugged off by the Municipality as high jinks is now being taken very seriously. In this respect a 52-year-old man of Thenimalai, a suburb of Tiruvannamalai, was arrested by forest department officials for allegedly causing a fire in the Tiruvannamalai hills on Saturday, December 9th.

According to sources, unidentified miscreants set grasses and woods in the hills on fire, causing damage to the area and particularly to trees developed by the afforestation programme carried out by the Forest Department and various Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Fire-fighting squads and a team of volunteers helped extinguish the fire. The miscreant Palani, who was detained for allegedly causing the fire, is said to have confessed to his offence, saying that he committed the arson, driven by the superstition that setting the hills on fire would cure stomach ache!


Divyakka said...

Oh boy, that last comment really took me by surprise! It is totally believable though, knowing the numerous local superstitions really do exist.

Arunachala Living said...

I was told recently that people come from long distances to set fire to the Hill - which they believe will satisfy a desire - usually of curing an ailment.

Previously that sort of high jink selfishness was tolerated - but not anymore. People at Arunachala are beginning to have more interest in the well being of the Hill - and the authorities are reacting more ROBUSTLY to such incidences.