CHENNAI : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami on Monday said 17 trekkers lost their lives in the Kurangani Hills forest fire in Theni district on March 11.
Speaking in the Assembly, Palaniswami added that the trekking groups - one from Chennai and another from Erode and Tiruppur - did not have the necessary official permission for the trekking.
He said a solatium of Rs 400,000 will be paid to the families of the dead, Rs 100,000 to those seriously injured and Rs 50,000 to others injured in the blaze.
Palaniswami said the fire spread fast because of lemon grass that has oil content.
He said the 12-member team paid an entry fee of Rs 200 each but took an unofficial route. The entry fee is valid for a day and since they had stayed in a tea estate guest house overnight, the fee validity expired.
Palaniswami said the 24-member trekking team from Chennai Trekking Club took an unauthorized trekking route.
He said a probe had been ordered into the incident.