Feb 05, 2018: Farmers expressed their anguish against the official apathy during the Raitha Jana Samparka meeting, a meeting held to discuss their problems, near Udupi.
The major issue discussed was wild animal menace. Farmers from all over the district demanded a solution, especially that of granting licenses to own a rifle without obstacles in hunting wild animals that enter their fields. They said that wild pigs are creating havoc and that the Wild Animal Conservation Act forbids farmers to hunt the animal, and if they kill them, they face the law. Fencing for agricultural fields needs to be funded by the Forest Department, the farmers demanded.
The Sangha district secretary Sathish Kini said that the wild animal menace has made farmers retire from farming and take up some other work. Although farmers try to claim the compensation for crop loss due to wild animals, it is not released immediately. Farmers have to struggle to receive the compensation. Sometimes, the compensation is not at all given. He asked how can a farmer protect his crops when it is constantly attacked by wild animals? He demanded that permission should be granted to obtain rifles.
Farmer Sampigehalli Rajiv Shetty from Shankaranarayana said the wild life area was later demarcated and the agricultural land existed for ages.
Farmers demanded that the right to grant permission to own a rifle should be available with the tahsildar as it was 15 years ago.
Karkala Wild Life Division ACF said that killing of the animal will only be allowed for this purpose. However, it should be done after informing the Forest Department as per the Forest rule. He also added that a maximum of only ten percent of farm land lies across the wild life zone.
The farmers objected and said that the farmers’ life has become cheap as the animal is not punished when it kills farmers. They also demanded using the funds under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to provide security for the crops grown, to which the officer objected.
District-In-charge minister Pramod Madhwaraj said that the delegation of farmers would be taken to the state forest minister to discuss the issue of wild life menace. The discussion would be on looking at the probabilities of relaxing the measures introduced through Wild Life Conservation Act, which are very strong. The state government cannot currently interfere. He said that all state-level officers will be called for the meeting held during the assembly sessions to discuss the farm problems. He said as the asset creation is also equally important to asset protection, the state government will send a proposal to the Central government for incorporating these changes according to the farmers need in MGNREGS.
Another farmer complained that under MGNREGS, only the middle and small farmers are given priority and not the big farmers. The officials demand certificates to prove the farmers’ earnings and land holdings, he said.