National

Wild animal attack victims deprived of compensation

- BHAWANI BHATTA, KANCHANPUR

Jul 10, 2019-

Chhaunda Rana of Bagphanta in Bhimdutta Municipality sustained serious injuries when a leopard from the Shuklaphanta National Park entered his courtyard and attacked him last year. He was immediately rushed to Mahakali Zonal Hospital in Mahendranagar, and was later referred to Dhangadhi-based Seti Zonal Hospital for treatment.

Rana stayed at the hospital for a few days and was discharged after recovery. His family had taken a loan to cover his medical expenses, but they have yet to clear the debt. Although the family had filed a complaint at the park office demanding compensation, the park is yet to provide Rana with relief.

“Around Rs 13,000 was spent for his treatment and the loan is yet to be repaid,” said Jayaram, the victim’s neighbour.

Around 200 people who have fallen victim to wild animal attacks, some left with lifelong disabilities and others whose fields and properties were destroyed, are still awaiting relief from the government.

According to officials at the park, they had sent around 200 complaint files to the then Regional Forest Directorate. However, they are now being told that those files got lost with no way of retrieving them. 

The Regional Forest Directorate was converted into the Provincial Forest Office and came under the ambit of the provincial forest ministry last year. The complaint files are believed to have been lost while moving office. 

Hemraj Bista, chief of Provincial Forest Office, said the office no longer has the files. 

“The complaint files might have been misplaced while shifting the office. We don’t have them with us anymore but we are looking for them,” said Bista.

“Around 200 files have been lost. The budget for compensation is with the national park, but it cannot be disbursed to the victims because there is no paperwork. Most of the impoverished victims of animal attacks need to pay their debt, but have no means of doing so without help from the government,” said Pushkar Bahadur Singh, chairman of Shuklaphanta Buffer Zone Management Committee.

 The park administration said efforts are on to provide relief to the victims of animal attacks. Chief Conservation Officer Laxman Prasad Paudel said the SNP is seeking permission from the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation to be allowed to disburse the relief amount to the victims. 

According to him, Rs 1.1 million was allocated to the national park to provide compensation. 

“We will not let the budget freeze; we are looking for ways to compensate the victims,” said Paudel.

As per the existing legal provisions of the country, the family of a person killed in wildlife attack will receive Rs 1 million. An individual who suffers from serious injuries in wildlife attack will get a compensation of Rs 200,000, whereas a victim with minor injuries will receive Rs 20,000. Similarly, the compensation amount in case of crop depredation by wild animals has been doubled to Rs 20,000.

Published: 10-07-2019 08:16

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