Over 200 families in Kasaragod and Kannur districts have come forward to give away their land to the Forest Department in the wake of increasing man-wildlife conflict in the region.
The department has received applications for voluntary relocation from families who own land inside or adjoining the forest fringes, by accepting a package under the Rebuild Kerala Development Programme.
With both districts witnessing a spike in man-animal conflicts in recent years, the department is hopeful of reducing the casualties and crop damage caused by wild animals and increasing the forest cover.
Since the announcement, the department has received applications from 100 eligible families in Kasaragod and 131 applications from 166 eligible families in Kannur. D.K. Vinod Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forest, Northern Circle, said the package gave ₹15 lakh per eligible family who possessed up to two hectares of land. Those who owned more than two hectares would get double the compensation.
Mr. Vinod said that unlike previous packages, the compensation was attractive as anyone over 18 years, including son, daughter, sister, brother, physically or mentally challenged person, minor orphan, and widow would be treated as separate family. This meant more compensation.
72 ha in Kannur
Divisional Forest Officer P. Karthick said the applications were being approved and the department expected to add 72 hectares of land in Kannur through this acquisition.
Though various steps were taken to reduce the man-animal conflict, the department had to pay a compensation of ₹1.2 crore this year for damage caused by wild animals. In areas near Ambayathode, Kottiyoor, Ambalakandy and Vattaparamba near Aralam raids by elephants caused massive crop damage. Instances of snakebite, and wild pigs damaging crops and attacking people also went up, he added.
100 ha in Kasaragod
K. Ashraf, Kanhangad Range Officer, said that in Kasaragod about 100 hectares of land would be added once the applications were processed. Areas in Bandadka and Karudadka section in the Kasaragod forest range and Ranipuram, Ottamala, Athiadakam colony in the Kanhangad forest range have been witnessing frequent man-animal conflict. About ₹39 lakh was paid as compensation in Kasaragod in 2019-20, he added.