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Kerala declared Man-Animal conflict a State-Specific Disaster

Why is it in the news?

  • Kerala becomes the first state in India to declare man-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster in response to rising fatalities and public outcry over animal attacks.

What changes

 Shift in Responsibility:

  • Previously, managing man-animal conflict fell under the purview of the forest department, operating according to the Wildlife Protection Act. With the declaration of man-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster, this responsibility has now shifted to the state disaster management authority, governed by the Disaster Management Act.

Decision-Making Authority:

  • The state disaster management authority, chaired by the Chief Minister at the state level and district collectors at the district level, gains significant decision-making authority.

Direct Intervention:

  • District collectors, serving as chairpersons of the district disaster management authorities, can now directly intervene in managing man-animal conflicts within their jurisdictions. This facilitates more localized and efficient responses to such incidents.

Quicker Actions:

  • The shift to the disaster management authority enables quicker decision-making and action implementation, as it allows for overriding of other norms and regulations, including those specified under the Wildlife Protection Act.

Legal Immunity:

  • Under the Disaster Management Act, actions taken by relevant authorities during a declared disaster period are protected from legal challenges, except for cases heard by the Supreme Court or High Court. This immunity provides assurance to decision-makers in managing man-animal conflicts.

Greater Authority in Decision-Making:

  • Previously, decisions regarding the handling of wild animals responsible for attacks, such as tranquilization or capture, faced scrutiny. However, under the disaster management authority, these decisions can be made with greater authority and efficiency.

Conclusion

  • Kerala’s declaration of man-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster follows the precedent set by other state-specific disasters declared in the past. These include snakebites in 2015, Covid-19 in 2020, heat waves, sunburn, and sunstroke in 2019, soil piping in 2017, and lightning and coastal erosion in 2015.
  • Overall, the declaration of man-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster represents a significant shift in approach, providing a more structured and empowered framework for addressing this pressing issue in Kerala.

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