The government is planning to hike the compensation paid to farmers for crop damage caused by wild animals, Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai said on Wednesday.
Replying to E Krishnappa in the Council, he said the department has submitted a proposal to the Finance Department to hike compensation for actual crop loss. "The department gives `5 lakh compensation in case of death caused by wild animals and `1 lakh for grievous injuries. But the compensation for crop loss caused by wild animals is minimal," he said.
Rai admitted that the elephant population has increased hardship for citizens. The government, in the budget, has announced giving 50 per cent subsidy to farmers who come forward to install solar fence for protecting crops from wild animals. "Besides, iron railings will be put up along the forest border to prevent wild elephants from coming out of its habitat. A separate squad has been formed to drive back elephants into forests. An operation has been launched at Alur in Hassan district to capture 25 elephants. Some wild pachyderms have been captured in the last one week," he said.
The minister said wild elephants have killed 33 people in 2010-11, 14 in 2011-12, 37 in 2012-13 and 28 in 2013-14 (till February 11).
The department has paid compensation to families of all victims. According to him, steps have been taken to make water available within forests so that jumbos do not venture out in search of water in summer.
Krishnappa expressed concern over increasing man-elephant conflict in several districts. He urged the government to take effective steps before the situation goes out of control. "A herd of 17 elephants wreaked havoc for more than 15 days in Tumkur district. Despite driving them back to Bannerghatta Forests, the elephant herd came back to Tumkur in search of food and foliage," he said.