New Delhi: Holding that human-wildlife conflict has become a burning issue in the past few years, the Union environment ministry has raised the compensation for death and permanent incapacitation to humans to Rs5 lakh from up from Rs2 lakh earlier.

Harsh Vardhan-led Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) earlier this month also enhanced compensation for people suffering grievous injury, minor injury or suffer damage to crop or property in human-wildlife conflict.

The move is significant as every year hundreds of people are killed in human-wildlife conflict and property/crops worth crores of rupees are damaged across the country.

Between 2014-15 and 2017-18 (till November 2017), a total of 1,557 people were killed due to human-elephant conflict. During the same period, about Rs180 crore were paid as compensation for loss of life (Rs37.31 crore) and damage to crop/property (Rs143.27 crore) by elephants.

“Human-wildlife conflict is one of the burning issues and is being raised in various fora. Several representations have been received in the ministry to take steps towards mitigation of human-wildlife conflict and to enhance the compensation amount for death/injuries/damage to crops or property," noted a letter sent by MoEFCC to all states earlier this month. The letter, dated 9 February, was reviewed by Mint.

The enhancement of compensation has been a long-pending demand.

“This ministry, after examining the matter, has proposed to enhance the ex-gratia relief payable under the centrally sponsored schemes to the victims for loss of life or injury to human beings and damages caused to property due to wild animals," the letter noted.

It raised the amount payable for death and permanent incapacitation to human beings to Rs5 lakh compared to Rs2 lakh at present, to Rs2 lakh for grievous injury from Rs60,000 earlier and cost of treatment to up to Rs25,000 in cases of minor injury compared to only the cost of treatment earlier.

In case of loss to property or crops, the compensation would continue to be paid as per the value of loss assessed by the authorised officers. Interestingly, the environment ministry clarified that it will be subject to availability of funds.

“It is clarified that reimbursement of the amount of ex-gratia relief payable under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Wildlife conservation supported by this ministry may be made as per the enhanced rate subject to the availability of funds," the MoEFCC letter added.

Thanks to factors like loss, degradation and fragmentation of wildlife habitats, the human-wildlife conflict has increased manifold in India in recent years. It leads to loss of cultivated crops, livestock, property such as houses and loss of human lives. This further increases antipathy among the people towards wildlife conservation and sometimes even results in revenge killing or injuries to animals.

For instance, as per official data, at least one human life was lost every day over nearly four years due to conflict with elephants and tigers.

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