COIMBATORE: The forest department allocates funds for development of ecology and paying compensation for people killed by wild animals, but not for expenses incurred on conducting post-mortem examinations and burying wild animals. Forest officials claimed they spend from their pockets to meet such expenses, and get it reimbursed.
Sources said officials have to spend on hiring earth movers and labourers to transport/lift carcasses, and dig burial pits. At time they have to foot the fuel bill of the vehicles to transport veterinarians to conduct post-mortem examinations. Further, the officials said they have to provide food for the entire team, including volunteers from NGOs, during rescue operations, and provide for treatment costs of rescued animals.
A range officer in Coimbatore, who did not want to be named, said a post-mortem of a wild elephant or bison costs over Rs 10,000. “We spend our money and get it reimbursed from the State government. However, funds were not released for the last couple of years. The government must allocate funds exclusively for post-mortem and burials every year.” A forester in the Nilgiris said officials are diverting money earmarked for Eco Development Committee to meet expenses.
“The State government has reimbursed funds only for two animal deaths whereas the officials sent a list of 10 animals,” said TN forest staff association president K Sivaprakasam. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden Dr Shekhar Kumar Neeraj denied staff were spending from their pockets but admitted officials were “managing the expenses” somehow.