Declare snake bites natural calamity, Chhattisgarh tells panel

Declare snake bites natural calamity, Chhattisgarh tells panel

Chhattisgarh government wants deaths due to snake and scorpion bites and sunstroke to be bracketed under natural calamity as people are more susceptible to such attacks due to massive forest cover in the state.

It has suggested this to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, which sought views from states on the status of disaster management apparatus in their states.

The Parliamentary panel, headed by senior BJP MP M Venkaiah Naidu, observed that 44 per cent geographical area of Chhattisgarh is forest and in addition to natural calamities, loss of human life, livestock and crop take place due to attacks of wild animals, snake bite and scorpion bite among others.

“The state government has suggested that it should be included as a natural calamity. The Committee recommends that the government may consider the request of the state government for inclusion of loss of life and property due to wild animal attacks and sun stroke under natural calamity,” the panel report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday said.

At present, the government has defined avalanches, cyclone, cloudburst, drought, earthquake, tsunami, fire, flood, hailstorm, landslides, pest attack, frost and cold wave as natural calamities.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last year asked the Group of Ministers (GoM) on natural calamities to look into the demand of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Vice Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy to include heat wave as a natural calamity.

According to provisions, a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh is given to the next of kin of those killed in a natural calamity.  If the suggestion of Chhattisgarh is accepted, the families of victims of such unnatural deaths will also be able to avail the compensation.

According to the latest figures provided by National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), 55 people were killed and eight injured by animals in Chhattisgarh while 760 were killed by snakes in 2012. The figure for the entire country is 8,891 deaths due to snake bite and 959 due to attack by animals.

The state also said that it deserved to be looked upon differently due to geographical peculiarities and it needs huge fund for disaster management infrastructure. It also complained that most of the central government organisations do not give due attention to their establishments in Chhattisgarh.

The panel has recommended that sufficient fund be provided to the state.

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