Tribune News Service
Patiala, November 28
Farmers of the state are spending sleepless nights due to the threat to their crops from the increasing population of wild boars and other animals. They are heading towards Patiala to approach the traditional hunters to get rid of the wild animals.
The Wildlife Department confirmed that the problems were severe in the Kandi, Malwa and border belts with Anandpur Sahib, Ferozepur, Nawanshahr, Patiala, Ropar, Sangrur, Mansa, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur and the stretch adjoining the Shivalik foothills being the worst-hit.
Relief process to be made easier
The government will take up the matter of making relief claims easier for the affected farmers. It has already allowed hunting of such wild animals under a set procedure. We will see what more can be done in this regard. —Randeep Singh Nabha, Agri minister
According to farmers, the wild boars attack their crops at night. “These animals destroy more than they can consume. They aggressively charge at us, if stopped,” said Rajdeep Singh from Anandpur Sahib. “Getting compensation is a tough procedure and usually, a majority of farmers use electric fencing — an inhumane method to kill the animals,” he added.
On the onset of winters every year, a majority of the farmers in the affected villages get in touch with a handful of hunters in Punjab to get rid of wild boars.
“This month, 45 villagers from across the state have already approached me. Besides vehicle and fuel, I have to arrange food and weapons too. Further, getting necessary permits from the Wildlife Department makes it tough as land-related documents and panchayat nod is needed to shoot the wild animals. I am able to help only a few of the farmers,” said Balraj Ghumman, a hunter.
In areas near “birs” (protected forest land) and foothills, the problem is more serious due to little food and water available.
In December 2009, the government had issued a notification allowing the hunting of wild boars and blue bulls for self-consumption. As per a letter issued by the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, the hunting of wild boars is allowed, where the village panchayat can pass a resolution highlighting the problem.
Jaskaran Sandhu, ex-vice-chairman, Punjab Wildlife Advisory Board, said the menace was on the rise due to the decreasing forest area and thus wild animals had to venture out for easy food, attacking crops. “Instead, the wildlife protected areas should be increased and the registration of hunters should be done so that farmers know whom to approach.”
Meanwhile, wildlife conservators claim that culling was no solution and the government should compensate the farmers instead. Farm unions, however, demand either they be compensated within a week or killing of wild animals be made easier.
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