LUCKNOW: In possibly the first-of-its-kind move, the Uttar Pradesh government has made the man-animal conflict a 'State Declared Disaster' bringing such incidents under the ambit of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to ensure better coordination and relief during such mishaps in the state.
Taking the historical decision to this effect, the state government has issued orders which will enable faster monetary relief to the victims of attack of wild animals. As per the provisions of the order, in cases of human death due to man-animal conflict, relief of Rs 5 lakh would be given to the family of deceased while the disbursement of compensation for injury would be in accordance to SDRF guidelines.
The order also makes it clear that the amount of Rs 1 lakh per death would be arranged by the state forest department from its own budget to the Revenue Department.
The order also speaks about creating awareness, ensuring police support in areas where such conflicts happen and proper guidelines to handle situations when wild animals venture into human inhabitation. The government order makes it mandatory for the authorities concerned to disburse the relief amount within 24 hours of the incident and the production of the post-mortem examination report of the victim.
The district authorities have been directed to complete paperwork swiftly so that the financial assistance could be credited to the account of the next kin of the deceased within 24 hours through RTGS. Earlier, it used to take 1-6 months or even more to disburse the relief amount by forest department for want of budget and procedural hiccups.
Notably, as per the central forestry rules, the payment of ex-gratia amount to victims of wild animal attack is provided with a view to reducing retaliatory killings. This move will help mitigate acrimony amidst local villagers, forest department and local administration in the conflict zones, especially, the districts in Terai arc landscape.
Uttar Pradesh has 23 wildlife sanctuaries across 27 districts covering over 5,000 sq km, besides Dudhwa National Park with an additional 490 sq km of area and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve with an area of 726 sq km, according to the data of a report by Wildlife Trust of India and the state government.
For the first time, lion and wild boar have been added to the list of wild animals which includes tiger, leopard, Indian wolf, hyena, crocodile, elephant and rhinoceros as predators. According to sources, 98 cases of human and big cats conflicts have been reported in the state in the last two years. Tiger attacks in Uttar Pradesh have alone claimed seven lives in last three years in Uttar Pradesh.
The declaration of such conflict under SDRF will also mean that police and local administration would now intervene in a situation wherein a herd of elephants enters a village, a leopard being spotted or a tiger venturing in human inhabitation, said a wildlife expert.