September 12, 2011 12:37:33 pm
The West Bengal government is contemplating a special package to rehabilitate widows of tiger victims in villages surrounding the Sunderbans forest.
The government is concerned over increasing cases of tigers from the forest straying into villages in search of food and killing people due to rapid loss of prey base.
Minister of State for Sunderbans Affairs Shaymal Mondal said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had sought a report on the number of widows of tiger victims living in the villages and their economic condition.
The minister said he had apprised the chief minister of the causes for the tigers’ forays into the neighbouring villages and the need for strengthening the prey base in the forest.
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Mondal said he had recently visited some villages in Gosaba,Kultoli and Basanti,adjacent to the forest,to see for himself the condition of the widows. He is optimistic that the chief minister would announce a special package for the world-famous mangrove forest incorporating measures for rehabilitating the widows after going through his report.
Asked if he has already prepared a list of such widows,Mondal said,”As there are no records of the victims kept so far,I cannot tell the exact number of them. I have instructed the Block Development Officers to consult with local MLAs and voluntary organisations to prepare the list.”
Residents of the villages have,however,complained that though the previous state government had announced compensation of Rs one lakh for the widows,the amount hardly reached them.
But to get the benefit,one has to produce photographic evidence of one’s husband killed by a tiger,which is ridiculous to say the least,a member of a voluntary organisation claimed. “In most cases,it is next to impossible in the interior villages to get tiger victims photographed,” the member of ‘Oyikkotan Shongho’,a social voluntary organisation working in the Sunderbans said.
Also in majority of the cases,the tigers pull their victims away into the deep forest and thereby rendering any effort to photograph the dead extremely difficult.
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