Kolkata: Ruling out any proposal to kill animals as in Bihar to save crops, the West Bengal Government has sought the Centre’s nod to catch wild elephants and not kill them to protect farmlands and lives of people.
“My department has written to the Union Environment Ministry about a month back before our government took over for its second term, seeking permission to catch wild elephants and not kill them to protect farmlands and lives of people,” state forest minister Binay Krishna Burman told PTI.
“At least 18 wild elephants are there in the state, besides nearly 600 elephants roaming free in different parts of Bengal. They often stray into farmlands, destroy crops, disrupt human population causing enormous loss of lives and property,” Mr Burman said.
Giving more details, the minister said wild elephants have killed over 100 people in the state last year, of which 70 were in South Bengal alone.
As the herd of elephants strayed into farmlands and highly populated areas, it caused damage to crops worth Rs. 7 crore last year, while the state government had to count huge compensation against each death cases, Mr Burman said.
“As it has become a permanent problem in the state, we need the Centre’s nod to catch wild elephants and put them in Animals Rehabilitation Centre to prevent loss of lives and property, including crops,” Mr Burman said.
“The state government is yet to receive any feedback from the Centre, but we are hopeful that they will agree,” the minister said.
Even as there was controversy over the Union Environment Ministry’s nod to Bihar’s proposal to kill Nilgais and save farmers’ crops, Mr Burman differed with what happened in the neighbouring state and said, “We don’t want to kill any animal. We will catch wild elephants and keep them in rehabs in the vast forest area, which is their natural habitat.”
With wild elephants straying into densely populated areas, it often poses threat to law and order situation in the state, the minister said adding “We want to overcome this problem once the Centre’s nod is there.”
West Bengal government’s move drew attention in the wake of a raging controversy over professional hunters hired by the Bihar government, who gunned down over 200 Nilgais in less than a week with the permission of the Centre.