Odisha’s hiked ex-gratia for deaths due to attacks by wild animals insufficient? Experts think so

The revision of financial assistance for animal depredation comes after almost a decade

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Thursday 04 May 2023
Odisha's hiked ex-gratia for deaths due to wildlife conflict insufficient? Experts think so
Photo: Sayantan Bera / CSE Photo: Sayantan Bera / CSE

The Odisha government May 3, 2023 increased the compensation amount for deaths due to human-animal conflict by 50 per cent.

Families of people killed by wild animals will now receive an ex-gratia of Rs 6 lakh, compared to Rs 4 lakh earlier, according to a press release by the office of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Wildlife activists, however, have termed the revision of the assistance as “too late and too little”, as the incidents of the human-wildlife conflict are increasing in the eastern state. The last revision of the financial assistance in cases of animal depredation was made in 2014. 

In case of permanent injury with less than 60 per cent wounds, the financial assistance will be increased to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh and if the injury is more than 60 per cent, the victim would get Rs 2.5 lakh.

If a victim suffers temporary injuries, the treatment at government hospitals will be free of cost, according to the new guidelines. If the treatment mandates more than a week in the hospital, the victim is entitled to get Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 for less than a week.

In case of livestock death, the compensation amount for cows and buffaloes is Rs 37,500, for bullock Rs 32,000 (as against Rs 5,000), for calves Rs 5,000 (as against Rs 2,500), for goat / sheep  Rs 4,000 (as against Rs 2,000) and for lamb Rs 1,500 (as against Rs 750).

For damage to cereal crops, the compensation was hiked to Rs 20,000 from Rs 10,000 per acre. For commercial crops, the hike is from Rs 12,000 to Rs 25,000.

For damage to property like houses, the compensation amount was increased to Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,000. If a house is permanently damaged, the victim will get financial assistance under Biju Pucca Ghar scheme, along with an additional Rs 20,000 as against Rs 10,000 earlier, the release said.

“The forest department had given a proposal for the increase of the compensation amount for the victims due to the animal depredation. Now the chief minister Naveen Patnaik has approved the proposal,” said a senior forest officer. It will come as a big relief for families that become victims of wild animal depredation, he added.

Biswajit Mohanty,  a wildlife activist, said the increased amount was too little in comparison to other states. “We have demanded the compensation amount for the death due to wild animal attack be increased to at least Rs 10 lakh,” he said. 

Rajani Kant Jena, chairman of Save Elephant Foundation, a non profit organisation, concurred. Generally poor people are more vulnerable to wildlife attacks, he said. “Some lost their crops, others their bread-winners. How can a poor family manage after their bread-earner is lost to animal attacks?”

The Maharashtra government provides Rs 20 lakh for deaths and Rs 5 lakh for injuries caused by the wild animals, said Mohanty. 

Chhattisgarh and Kerala give Rs 6 lakh each for deaths and Rs 2 lakh and Rs 75,000 respectively for injuries.  Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu give Rs 5 lakh each for the deaths and Jharkhand Rs 4 lakh, he added.

Odisha has witnessed one of the highest cases of human-wildlife conflict. During 2012-13 to 2021-22, a total of 1,131 people were killed and 2,027 injured in wildlife attacks, according to the official sources. The largest share — 905 deaths and 586 people injured — was due to elephant attacks, according to sources.

During the period, 954 cattle were killed and 13,408 houses were damaged by the wild animals in the state. Over 136,195 acres of different crops were also damaged, sources added. 

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