Farmers want permanent relief from animal menace

Agitated over crop damage and other issues faced by farmers cultivating close to the forest boundary in Coimbatore, farmers asked the forest department to be equipped to avert man-animal conflicts. Forest officials had to remain mute spectators, unsuccessfully trying to pacify them.
Farmers want permanent relief from animal menace
Portion of a plantain farm that was raided by jumbos near Thudiyalur

Coimbatore

Farmers dominated the meeting that was chaired by District Forest Officer Ramasubramanian at the Tamil Nadu Forest Academy (TNFA) premises in Coimbatore on Thursday. Farmer Palanisamy of Thondamuthur said that the forest department lacked men, fireworks and equipment needed to drive elephants into the forest from agricultural lands. 
Secretary of Farmers Association (non-political), Kandhasamy sought withdrawal of cases registered against farmers if peacocks were found dead in their farm. “We cannot be responsible if peacocks straying into our lands accidentally consume pesticides and die,” he said. He pointed out that farmers are booked for killing snakes but there is no compensation for families of snake bite victims. 
The government has announced maximum compensation of Rs 25,000 per acre or the actual loss incurred (whichever is lesser) for crop damaged by elephants and select wild animals. “But in many cases the loss incurred is much more than Rs 25,000 per acre as the investment is very high. We want the actual compensation to be awarded without a ceiling,” he said. 
Mahalakshmi of Thadagam sought permission to kill wild boars entering agricultural lands and causing crop damage. “Their population is multiplying every year and there is no check on it, resulting in heavy crop damage when they raid crops,” she said. Ryots sought amendments in the Wildlife Protection Act in this connection. “Action should not be taken against farmers who kill boars straying into our lands,” another farmer said. 
Forest officials said that the minutes of the meeting with suggestions by farmers will be forwarded to the district administration and forest department to decide on further course of action. More than 600 farmers who participated in the meeting wanted a similar meeting to be organised next month and wanted forest department minister and policy makers to participate in it to work out a permanent solution for long pending issues.

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