You need to be a victim of a high-profile tiger attack to be duly acknowledged and compensated immediately by the state Forest Department. To top it,a ministers visit acts as a catalyst.
Consider this: When Forest Minister Fateh Bahadur Singh visited Faizabad on January 12,the ex-gratia amount was immediately sanctioned to the families of the two victims within a month of the attack. In contrast,a large number of compensation cases of the past are yet to be disbursed. Compensation has also been given to the relatives of one victim in Barabanki,Ghazipur and Pilibhit each and three in Lakhimpur Kheri in the recent tiger attacks.
On the other hand,according to the Forest Department figures,17 human lives were lost in the attacks by wild animals across the state till November,2008. In addition,20 people were injured and 56 domestic animal deaths in animal attack in the same period.
For this,the Forest Department has to pay an ex-gratia of Rs 3,48,000,of which the department has only paid Rs 56,200.
Forest Minister Fateh Bahadur Singh reasoned: We have cleared the compensation amount for the present tiger attack victims. We will look into the cases that are still pending.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) BK Patnaik said: Due to the recent tiger incidents in the state,we have not been able to focus on giving the ex-gratia amount to the families of the other victims.
As soon as the present tiger problem ends,we will organise a meeting with all the Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) and begin a drive to sort out the matter as soon as possible. Most of these cases have been pending as the required paperwork is not complete, he added.
To clear the backlog,the department is contemplating of decentralising the procedure and giving more powers to the respective DFOs to make the final assessment of cases.
At present,the cases shuttle between the DFOs and the headquarters.
The matter is still pending in our case due to paperwork. Once we submit the documents,it takes at least a month to clear the compensation proposal, said Pramod Gupta,DFO of Pilibhit.
After we send the proposal,the government then gives a nod for the allocation of the budget,and then finally the revenue department allocates the money, he added. According to the Forest Department,two human deaths,10 injury cases and 39 domestic animal deaths in animal attack were reported from Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in 2008.
While ex-gratia grants of Rs 1,73,600 have been sanctioned,no payment has yet been made. In Pilibhit,too,only Rs 56,200 has been paid of the total ex-gratia amount of Rs 1,61,200.
In Mahoba,one injury and one death case is yet to be compensated by the department. Similarly,Rs 50,000 compensation in Shahjahapur and an equal amount in Bijnore has still not been paid.
In case of human death in an animal attack,a compensation of Rs 50,000 for an adult and Rs 25,000 for a child is given to the family of the deceased. In case of an injury,the compensation depends on the nature of the injury.
Another tiger on a rampage,villager hurt
In a yet another incident of tiger attack,a resident of Gaulak Pokedor village in Sitapur district was seriously injured on Thursday. The injured,Ramnath (50),has been admitted to the hospital. The incident occurred around 3 pm after the tiger was sighted sitting under the tree near Billarpurwa.
The incident took place as the crowd had gathered around the place where the tiger was spotted, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sitapur,R K Sachan. The area is situated on the border of Bahraich and Lakhimpur Kheri. Forest department officials suspect the tiger has come either from Kheri or Bahraich forest area,situated around 30 kms from where it was sighted. To confirm if it is the same tiger that had attacked a villager in North Kheri a few days ago,pugmarks of the tiger will be matched, said Sachan.
The forest officials claim that while vigilance for the tiger is on,the tiger has now crossed over to the Bahraich district by Thursday evening.
The forest officials,meanwhile,continued their efforts to trap the tiger that had killed a villager in the last few days in Lakhimpur Kheri after the pugmarks were found on the outskirts of the sugarcane field in Bhira range on Thursday.