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Forest cash relief

Alipurduar, Dec. 4: Forest range officers would be able to pay Rs 20,000 cash as a part of death compensation and Rs 2,000 as damages for injury, crop and property ruin by wild animals.

Last year, the Trinamul Congress-led state government had stated that the entire compensation amount to forest villagers would be paid in cheque but it led to problems on the ground because many of them do not have bank accounts.

S.S. Bisht, the principal chief conservator of forests, said today: “I have issued an order under which up to Rs 20,000 can be paid in cash in case a person is killed by a wild animal (the full compensation is Rs 1 lakh). As compensation for crop, house damage or any injury, up to Rs 2,000 can be paid in cash. The rest of the money will be paid in cheque.”

The amount paid in case of injury and property destruction is fixed depending on the extent of the damage.

During Left rule, 25 per cent of the death compensation was paid in cash and the rest in cheque. In case of an injury, all expenses, including ambulance charges, were paid in cash. For damage of crops and huts, a part was paid on the spot and the remaining in cheque. But after Trinamul came to power, an order was issued stating all payments would be made by account payee cheques.

Rajendra Jakhar, the divisional forest officer, wildlife-III, said: “We received the order around seven days back. This would help us pay compensation, especially for injuries and property damage.”

Villagers have to report to the nearest range office about injuries and damage in animal raids. A survey is conducted after which the compensation is fixed. In case of deaths, the money is given after examining the post-mortem report.

Bisht said: “From the forest development corporation, I had given Rs 50 lakh to the department. In case of an emergency, the divisional forest officer can report to the chief wildlife warden and he can ask the corporation’s general manager to release the funds.”