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Ex Gratia Assistance to Frontline Forest Staff

By auther pic. WTI

April 13, 2021

Ex Gratia Assistance to Frontline Forest Staff

WTI

Among one of India’s most valued resources are its natural resources sequestered in its vast forests from tropical rainforests to alpine forests and scrublands, in its coastline and marine resources in its EEZ, in its vast mangrove forests of the river deltas, in its terai arc, in the dense forests of north east India and even in the cold mountains and ridges of Karakoram and Himalayan mountain range in Ladakh. 

 

The World Ranger Day falls on 31st July each year, dedicated to brave forest frontline staff who guard these natural resources of our heritage wildlife, timber, land and natural water resources. As this day approaches, this article pays an homage to these brave men and women who brave inclement weather, threats from poachers and timber mafia and even wild animals. Working in remote areas with outdated equipment (old rifles), lack of emergency medical care, weak safety systems, its only their steely resolve and commitment to protecting our natural resources which keep these men and women going. 

 

Unlike the country’s police and defense services which have modernized over the years. India’s frontline staff work with outdated support mechanisms. Many among them are daily wagers with no formalized employee benefits. 

 

And thus when these brave men and women fall or get disabled in their line of duty, the surviving family members face immense hardships. 

 

It is to alleviate this, since the last two decades, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with the support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been giving ex-gratia support to bereaved family members in the event of death and or life changing disability suffered in the line of duty for India’s frontline forest guards. 

 

Since, the inception of this programme, we have been able to provide support in a total of 194 cases, spanning 19 states of our country and a total amount of INR 1.38 crores have been disbursed to support the surviving family members of our fallen forest men and women. 

 

The past five years (2015 – 2020), in a total of 65 cases which includes 51 mortalities and 14 having suffered life changing injuries, Wildlife Trust of India’s ex gratia assurance scheme has disbursed a total of INR 46, 30,000.  

 

The four cases in this financial year (2020 – 2021) were all of fatalities, and had been routed to us through the respective state forest departments and we have been able to provide financial assistance via our ex gratia assurance scheme to their surviving family members, brief detail follows:  

 

DS Rana, Forest Guard, death by gunshot injury while on duty, killed by Timber Mafia on May 2020, Gwalior Forest Division, Madhya Pradesh

 

His father receiving ex – gratia relief of Rs. 1,00,000 granted by WTI 

 

Babul Choudhury, game watcher met with a fatal road accident near Mikhirpara of Deepor Beel Wildlife Range, Guwahati Wildlife Division, Assam on 1st of Jan, this year. He couldn’t be saved even though his colleagues tried their best by rushing him to the nearest hospital in Guwahati. IFAW – WTI provided an ex – gratia support of INR 1,00,000 to his wife via Bank Transfer. 

 

Amrutheshwara Swamy met with a fatal road accident at Metikuppe village on the 13th of Jan. He had been engaged as a vehicle driver, serving the Metikkupe Wildlife Range of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka for the last 35 years. Working as a daily wage employee, his sudden demise meant a financial crisis for his wife and two sons. WTI –IFAW’s assistance of INR 1,00,000 helped mitigate this crisis. 

 

Ganesha G., who had been working as a Forest Guard since the last seven years at the Hunsur Wildlife Range of Nagarhole National Park too met a tragic death on 17th of Jan in a road accident. His employment with the Karnataka Forest Department was the only source of income for his family of a wife and two sons. WTI – IFAW ex – gratia help was granted to his wife for an amount of INR 1,00,000. 

 

All these three cases have been through requests from the State Forest Departments who have been appreciative of our ex – gratia assurance scheme. 

 

WTI stands firm towards its commitment to our brave frontline forest staff, however we have seen major funding cuts this year making us struggle to fulfill grant requests for our long standing ex – gratia assurance scheme.  

 

Help us in fulfilling our commitment by donating here

 

            

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Author

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is a non-profit conservation organization with a vision to protect India’s natural heritage. Registered as a Trust, it’s mission is to conserve wildlife and its habitat and to work for the welfare of individual wild animals, in partnership with communities and governments.

 

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