Amend Wildlife (protection) Act To Protect Innocent Farmers: Association | News from Coimbatore

Coimbatore: Farmers have called on the Tamil Nadu Government to pressure the Union Government to amend the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 to protect innocent farmers from charges under the law.
More than 100 members of several farmers’ associations attended a meeting organized by the city’s forestry department on Monday to discuss with the committee formed to study wild elephant mortality over the past year.
Additional Senior Chief Forest Conservator (Work Plan) I Anwardeen, Work Plan Manager, Vellore, CH Padma, Deputy Forest Conservator JR Samartha, OSAI Chairman K Kalidasan and District Forest Officer TK Ashok Kumar interacted with the farmers.
During the interaction, Vivasayigal Sangam (non-community, non-religious, non-political) State Secretary General P Kandasamy said that the state government should put pressure on the Union government to he makes an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act so that innocent farmers are not prosecuted under the law when elephants are found dead on their land.
“Wild animals should be in the forest. But now we can see them in agricultural fields and human dwellings. We have no intention of killing wild elephants or any other animals. If wild elephants are found dead in our agricultural field, the forest department should not consider this poaching. They should consider this an accident,” Kandasamy said.
The Forest Department is filing lawsuits against farmers for the same charges it is bringing against poachers, he alleged. The Forest Department should not treat farmers like criminals.
R Vellingiri, a retired deputy superintendent of police, said ganja peddlers used to cultivate plants and keep avuttukai (domestically-made bombs) inside the reserve’s forest. . The Forest Department did not act against them, he alleged.
“The Forest Department should conduct a fair investigation before registering a complaint against a farmer under the law,” Vellingiri said. The committee has also interacted with another group of farmers who have called on the forest department to beef up its staff and increase patrols within the boundaries.

Andrew B. Reiter