Aaranyak appeal to Dispur
Aaranyak, an NGO, which has been working for wildlife and conservation issues in the Northeast, has demanded disaster status for man-elephant conflict.
The organisation said funds should be procured accordingly from the departments concerned to initiate the process.
“The efforts by the Assam government in the past two years to save rhinos have produced desired results. Rhino poaching across the state has reduced owing to the commitment of the government. Similar commitment and time-bound action are now needed to turn the man-elephant conflict into man-elephant co-existence,” the secretary general and chief executive officer of Aaranyak, Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, said on Sunday.
The Uttar Pradesh government is the first state government in the country to declare man-animal conflict to be a state-declared disaster in October.
This brought such incidents under the ambit of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to ensure better co-ordination and relief during such mishaps in the state.
The state government order makes it mandatory for the authorities concerned to disburse the relief amount within 24 hours of the incident and production of the victim’s post-mortem examination report.
“The elephant has been declared a national heritage animal in India. Humans and elephants have lived for ages in harmony. However, in the past two years, man-elephant conflict has gone out of control in Assam with casualties in both human and elephants shooting up,” Talukdar said.
“Doesn’t it merit immediate discussion at the government level? Increasing ex gratia for death of people because of elephant attacks outside forest areas is not the solution. The issue has to be resolved through time-bound steps. It is the need of the hour,” he added.
In Assam, man-elephant conflict has been frequent in Udalguri, Sonitpur, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Golaghat and Majuli districts over the past few years.
“We all know that the main reasons for an increase in the level of conflict are rapid decline of forest cover in parts of Assam and loss of traditional elephant movement paths because of linear infra-structure development projects and also because of encroachment,” Talukdar said.
The organisation asked policy makers of all northeastern states to resort to out-of-the-box thinking to chalk out a well-coordinated policy, covering the region-wide conservation issues.
“The Northeast needs uniform and need-based strategies and regional coordination among policy makers to conserve nature,” he added.
“In such a crisis situation, vastly verdant and pristine nature in the Northeast, including parts of the eastern Himalaya and the India-Myanmar biodiversity hotspots, needs concerted efforts for conservation of its nature and resources, rivers and other waterbodies for the well-being of not only the country but the entire planet,” Talukdar said.