The Theni Fire Tragedy is heart-wrenchingly sad. I don’t watch TV but I did watch a video on YouTube of people who have been charred from the fire and writhing in pain. 20 seconds into the video, I could no longer watch it. That girl squirming in pain could very well have been my daughter. In fact, my plan was to ask my daughter to join a long trek after her public exams are done. I can only imagine the pain and agony the parents must be going through with the loss of their dear ones.
This is an accident. No one would have anticipated a disaster of this magnitude. Even with all the precautions, its not easy to escape a raging inferno. That’s why I don’t think its right to criminalize an organization like the Chennai Trekking Club. I’ve known members who have been part of the organization for the past ten years and they are among the nicest folks I’ve met. They are so full of life and energy. They are law abiding and very eco-sensitive. I really wish the Chief Minister or the Media can take into consideration the amazing work done by this passionate community over the last decade.
It’s also very easy to victimize the leader. Peter Van Geit has earned the respect of tens of thousands of people for selflessly helping others and to help build an amazing community of volunteers. It would be very wrong to punish him for an accident which is beyond his control. If that’s the case, then the Minister of Forests and Minister for Environment should also be held accountable for failure to prevent the forest fires in the first place.
Here’s hoping that positive measures comes out of this tragedy. Better forest fire measures. Better safety precautions on adventure treks. I really hope the spirit of Chennai Trekking Club continues to live on and I would whole-heartedly sign up for the next activity as a sign of solidarity.