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Kerala declares man-animal conflict a state-specific disaster: What changes with this?

Context- In response to the ongoing fatalities and escalating resentment due to wildlife attacks, Kerala took the unprecedented step of designating human-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster on Wednesday, March 6. This makes Kerala the first state in India to take such a measure.

What changes

  • Currently, the forest department manages man-animal conflicts under the Wild Life Protection Act. However, once such conflicts are declared a state-specific disaster, the responsibility shifts to the state disaster management authority.
  • This body, led by the Chief Minister at the state level and the district collector at the district level, can take swift and decisive actions under the Disaster Management Act. This declaration allows the disaster management authority to override other norms for quick decision-making and action. It also enables district collectors to intervene directly as the heads of the district disaster bodies.

Why the change

  • In recent weeks, each instance of human fatality due to wildlife conflict has led to increasing demands for the responsible animals to be tranquilized, captured, or killed.
  • Currently, the sole authority to make decisions on wild animals causing havoc in human settlements is the state’s chief wildlife warden. However, past decisions to tranquilize dangerous animals have been legally challenged.
  • Once the issue falls under the jurisdiction of the disaster management authority, it can override other norms, including those under the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • According to Section 71 of the Disaster Management Act, only the Supreme Court or a High Court can question any actions taken by relevant authorities under this Act. Section 72 states that during a declared disaster, the provisions of this Act will supersede any other law.

Other state-specific disasters

  • In 2015, Odisha recognized snakebite as a disaster specific to the state. Kerala did the same for Covid in 2020.
  • Additionally, heat waves, sunburn, and sunstroke were declared as such in 2019, soil piping was in 2017, and lightning and coastal erosion were in 2015.

The post Kerala declares man-animal conflict a state-specific disaster: What changes with this? appeared first on Vajirao IAS.

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