No ex-gratia for kin of tipplers killed in elephant attack: Bengal advisory
Joydeep Thakur, Hindustan Times
September 27, 2022
The next of kin of any inebriated person killed by an elephant will not
receive any compensation from the state forest department, according to a
fresh advisory issued by forest officials in West Bengal’s Jhargram
The advisory was part of a list of dos and don’ts issued ahead of the
festive season by forest officials last week, as historical data suggests
the problem is more pronounced at this time of the year.
“Consumption of liquor and roaming around after evening (6pm) in a drunken
state will increase vulnerability to any kind of elephant attack and must
be avoided. No ex-gratia compensation will be paid in case of an attack by
elephants after liquor consumption,” the Durga Puja festival advisory said.
While the top forest officials were not aware of such advisories, the
district forest officials said these were issued in accordance with the law
and were a standard practice.
“I won’t be able to comment on this without seeing it. But there is nothing
of this sort in the law. The district forest officials would be the right
persons to comment on it,” said Debal Roy, chief wildlife warden.
“This is the standard practice. It was there in the past too. We are just
insisting on it,” said J Sheikh Fareed, divisional forest officer of
“This is the first time that such an advisory has come to my notice. I have
not heard of anything of this sort in the past. How will the forest
department prove whether the person was drunk after he is killed by the
elephant,” said a senior forest official.
The list of dos and don’ts has also advised people not to go near forest
areas where elephants are present, not to tease the animals and take videos
or photos, and avoid roads through which elephants may pass.
West Bengal accounts for the second highest number of man-elephant conflict
incidents in the country after Odisha. Between 2015-16 and 2019-20, at
least 430 people were killed in conflict with elephants in West Bengal.
With consistent conservation efforts, the elephant population in the state
has gone up from around 175 in 1989 to around 700 at present. While there
are resident herds, migratory herds also come to the western parts of the
district from Jharkhand.
Jhargram is one of the districts in south Bengal that account for a high
number of man-elephant conflict. In the last week of August, three people,
including a woman, were killed and two others were injured in an elephant
attack in the district.
A district forest official said that while hariya, a local drink made from
fermented rice, is a beverage of choice among villagers in Jhargram and its
adjoining districts, alcohol consumption goes up during the festive season.
“The man-elephant conflict is one of the most important issues in the
Jhargram division of the state forest department. The forest department has
adopted a series of measures to keep elephants at bay and bring down such
attacks. This includes sending bulk SMSes to people on the location of
elephant herds, erection of solar street lamps and tracking elephants by
dedicated trackers, among others. The department is also coming up with
elephant-proof trenches and solar-power fencing,” said a district forest
In 2020, state chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced jobs of home guards
to the kin of victims killed by elephants apart from compensation of ₹4
“Elephants are highly attracted to alcohol of all types. Elephants breaking
into huts where country alcohol is consumed or stored and into army liquor
stores is common. But not giving compensation to the next of kin of people
in a drunken state who are killed by elephants could be too drastic. All
across rural India, very few people return home in the evening in a sober
state,” said Raman Sukumar, a noted elephant expert.