Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Saturday said specialised training and equipment would be given to forest department personnel to rescue people during wildfires and curb them.
The announcement comes in the wake of wildfire in the Kurangani Hills in Theni district in March this year, which killed 20 people who had gone trekking.
The training and equipment would be provided at a cost of Rs two crore, Palaniswami told the assembly in a suo moto statement.
“Majority of wildfire happens because of human error,” he said, adding the forest department was taking steps to rein in such incidents in Tamil Nadu and the new initiative will see personnel getting hands-on training.
A sprawling, new 70,000-sq-ft headquarters would be built at Velachery here for the Forest department, as the existing facility at Saidapet is inadequate, he said.
Also, 125 new jeeps would be bought at a cost of Rs 12.50 crore to be provided to the forest rangers.
Twenty people died in the fire at Kurangani hills of Theni district, 520km away from Chennai.
A total of 39 persons – 12 from Erode and Tirupur and 27 from Chennai – had gone on a trek to the hills on March 10 and 20 had died in the blaze.
The state government had appointed a senior state official, Atulya Misra, as inquiry officer to probe into the circumstances leading to the death of the trekkers in Kurangani hills.