September 16, 2017
Siba Mohanty, The New Indian Express
BHUBANESWAR: In a major move, Wildlife Wing of Forest Department has created a revolving fund for payment of compassionate grant to victims of human kills by elephants and other wild animals.
Under the new scheme, eight divisions designated as high-depredation prone will get an annual revolving fund of Rs 5 lakh each while 11 others, placed in medium-depredation category, will get Rs 3 lakh per year to meet advance payment for killings by elephants and other wild animals.
The rest divisions are treated as less-depredation prone and will be allocated Rs 1 lakh each a year, sources in the Wildlife Wing said. The financial requirement for the revolving fund will be sourced from Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) pool. It will meet only the advance payments up to first 35 per cent.
According to estimates of the Wildlife Wing, every year about 60 persons are killed by elephants while another 15 fall prey to other wild animals. In most cases, the deaths trigger law and order situation and public agitation over payment of compassionate grant which is riddled with procedural bottlenecks such as post-mortem reports and legal heir certificate which take their own sweet time.
To overcome the delay and tide over the law and order issues, Chief Wildlife Warden Sandeep Tripathy chalked out the new scheme which seeks the Range Office to pay 10 per cent of the ex gratia to the legal heir of the deceased within 24 hours of the incident by way of an office order. The DFO then will release the amount from the revolving fund and submit a proposal to PCCL (Wildlife) for reimbursement.
The Range Office will not insist on legal heir certificate for the advance payment but seek reasonable proof for identification for advance payment to address immediate public resentment. Local PRI members and prominent persons of the village can be used for identification.
Subsequently, another 25 per cent will be paid within 10 days of the death to meet their immediate expenditure for which DFO will carry out the necessary procedures. The rest 65 per cent will be paid upon receipt of police inquest report, legal heir certificate from tehsildar and post mortem report within a month.
Compassionate amount for all other forms of depredation will be made from the budget heads or CAMPA heads as per availability and sanction. Once budget heads are exhausted, CAMPA fund can be tapped.
The Forest Department annually shells out about Rs 17 crore on compassionate grant out of which Rs 12 crore is payment towards crop damage. Of the rest, around Rs 2 crore is ex gratia towards human kills whereas about Rs 3 crore is for house damage and cattle kills by wild animals.
High-depredation prone: Angul, Athagarh, Athamallik, Dhenkanal, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar, Rourkela and Sundargarh.
Medium-depredation prone: Bargarh, Baripada, Berhampur, Bonai, Deogarh, Jeypore, Karanjia, Rajnagar Mangrove Wildlife Division, Rairakhole, Rairangpur and Sambalpur.