As wild elephant claims one more life, victim's kin faces uncertainty over compensation

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According to M V Ambili, President of the Konni Block Panchayat, Dileep was the sole breadwinner of his family. Photo: Special arrangement.

Pathanamthitta: Even as one more life was snuffed out in raging wild elephant attacks on forest fringes, there is uncertainty over compensation to the victim's family, hailing from a poor financial background.

57-year-old Dileep, a native of Ezhathala in Thannithode, Pathanamthitta, was trampled to death by a wild elephant on Thursday. The body, which was retrieved after much effort by the forest department, will soon be handed over to his relatives after a post-mortem.

"The attack took place at least half a kilometre inside the Pulinjal forests, and hence, there is no scope for any solatium this time. Also, no prior permission was sought to enter the forest, even if it meant only a little away from the colony," said Jayakumar Sharma, Divisional Forest Officer, Ranni. The forest department, though, will be handing over Rs 25,000 immediately for carrying out the funeral of the victim.

"We’re also planning to mobilize a fund for the family on humanitarian grounds after assessing the family's financial condition," the official added.

As per the rules, persons injured or killed in wild animal attacks shall not be eligible for compensation if the incident of the attack takes place while the victim contravened any of the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 or rules made thereunder.

According to M V Ambili, President of the Konni Block Panchayat, Dileep was the sole breadwinner of his family.

"We understand that in this case there is no scope for protests as in Wayanad and Kothamangalam since the incident had taken place well inside the forest. We, however, are making interventions at the administrative level to mobilize funds for the family," she said.

Dileep and Omanakuttan had gone to the forest to lay fishing nets in the Kallar River. Omanakuttan too has sustained injuries in the attack, which took place around 7.30 pm, and is now admitted to a hospital," she added.

Taking serious note of the incident, the local body has urged the forest department to construct solar fencing on the forest fringes to prevent the straying of wild animals, which often enter human habitations in search of water in the Kallar River.

The forest officials, meanwhile, pointed out that the duo had ignored warnings from the department against a rise in the presence of wild animals in the area.

"The duo had been chased away by an elephant at the same spot the previous day and, despite this encounter, they again entered the forest the very next day," pointed out a forest official in Thannithode.

“Wild elephants have been sighted in areas like Ezhathala, Poochakkulam, and Thoombakkulam region for the past several weeks with the onset of summer. But for a few tiger sightings and an attack on a house near Poochakkulam, no major incidents have been reported from the region over the past several years," said Kuttapan K A, Thannithodu Grama Panchayat President

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