In today’s papers there were notices like the one below from the Deccan Chronicle for 10 August 2012. More was said in The Hindu, to the effect that path markings would be removed, exists blocked and signs posted.
I do not know what this really means in terms of the actual enforcement that will be done. We will see. Certainly this is a painful decision for many who love Arunachala.
The situation as far as I know is there is no evidence that anyone doing Pradakshina has ever started a fire. There have been fires on the hill for hundreds of years, started by local for various reasons. So I doubt if this will solve the problem of fires on Arunachala.
If any reader knows Indian people of high office or status, who could talk to the Forest Department leadership, this would be a good time. Ramana devotees, people walking on the Inner Path, are not the ones starting the fires.
I think whatever is done to limit access to Arunachala will have little effect on the actual fire starters, since the mountain has a perimeter of 14 KM, and there will never be enough enforcement to keep locals away from Arunachala. And what of the tens of thousands who trek up to the top of Arunachala during Deepam? This has been going on for I think at least 3000 years! Each year you see fires started by these people. What about this? The effect of this ban will be to remove Arunachala, beloved by Sri Ramana Maharshi and his followers, from the reach of those who love the mountain the most. Can anyone help? This is the time.
If you do talk to anyone, please use the Deccan Chronicle article as your source, not this blog. India is our home now, and we do not want problems for ourselves for calling attention to this issue.
Here is the Hindu article. This url was given to us by a reader.
TIRUVANNAMALAI, August 10, 2012
Inner path on hill out of bounds for ‘girivalam’
Incidents of forest fire have sparked this new ban
Performing girivalam around Tiruvannamalai hill, on a footpath known as ‘inner path’ has been banned.
While the regular girivalam path attracts several lakh devotees during full moon days, the inner path, actually a coarse footpath that passes through forest and much closer to the hill, attracts few thousand foreign tourists and domestic devotees.
District Forest Officer V. Naganathan said, “The path passes through reserve forest and entering reserve forest itself is an offence. Repeated incidents of forest fire occurred in the hill due to indiscriminate entry into forests. Now we have issued specific orders banning the practice of performing girivalam in the inner path”. During last full moon day, forest personnel asked thousands of people who were treading the inner path to get out of the forests and to walk on the regular path. We got written undertaking from some of the violators to not to take the path again, he said.
“Some ashrams are known to have involved in arranging inner path girivalam for their guests. We have asked them to not to arrange this practice again. If people walking on inner path refer to any ashram, we will take action against it. We have ordered for the removal of paint markings made on stones along the path. We are planning to close the entry points to the path and to put hoardings in about 50 places which warn against the practice of performing girivalam inside the forest. Forest personnel would be deputed in the inner path in the coming full moon days and action would be taken against people who violate the ban,” Dr. Naganathan said.
Initially the path attracted only a sparse number of nature lovers and devotees who love wilderness. But as the regular girivalam path is becoming commercialised day by day, the inner path started attracting more number of people and faced resultant ecological threats. Finally came the forest department ban.