Kerala govt urged to give at least Rs 5 lakh as compensation to snakebite victims

Representational image
Representational image. Graphic: Manorama

Kasaragod: The state government should provide compensation of at least Rs 5 lakh to the family of persons who die of snake bite, said the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC).

Chief secretary V P Joy should study the matter and initiate steps to out a government order to that effect, said the commission's judicial member K Byjunath in his order.

He also directed the chief secretary to inform the commission of the action taken in three months.

The KSHRC direction comes on a petition by Muhammed Ashraf A S of Adoor in Kasaragod seeking adequate compensation for families of snake bite victims.

In his reply to the KSHRC, the Chief Conservator of Forest said the 1980's Kerala Rules govern the payment of compensation to victims of attack by wild animals.

As per the compensation rate revised in May 2018, the Department of Forest gives Rs 10 lakh to families of persons killed by wild animals. In the case of snake bite deaths outside the forest, the department gives only Rs 2 lakh as compensation.

In the case of permanent disabilities from wild animal attacks, the government gives Rs 2 lakh as compensation.

An injured person is eligible for Rs 1 lakh. If a member from the Scheduled Tribe community is injured, he is eligible for the entire cost of treatment or Rs 1 lakh, whichever is higher.

The government gives Rs 1 lakh for damages to property, crops, or lifting domestic animals.

Ashraf argued that dependents of snakebite victims should get at least Rs 5 lakh as compensation.

According to the latest available annual forest statistics (2020-2021), 88 persons were killed by wild animals. Of them, 52 or 60% died of snakebites.

In 2019-2020, 71 of the 92 victims of wild animals died of snakebites.

In 2020-2021, 988 persons were injured in wild animal attacks. Of them, 767 persons were bitten by snakes.

In 2019-2020, 548 of the 699 injured persons were bitten by snakes.

The petitioner Muhammed Ashraf said that even states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha were giving out a higher compensation to snakebite victims than Kerala.

If the Forest Department did not have enough funds to compensate victims, he suggested that snakebite deaths should be notified as a disaster and compensation should be given from the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund.

Commission member Byjunath said in his order that the commission examined the petition and found it rational and deserved to be favourably considered.

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