NC’s Natural Resources and Environment Committee to rework on human-wildlife conflict and crop damage compensation review report

The National Council will continue deliberations on the Natural Resources and Environment Committee’s ‘review report on compensation-related policies for human-wildlife conflicts and crop damage due to natural calamities’ tomorrow after the chairperson instructed the committee to rework on it. Members said the report needs to be improved for clarity. The report is to examine existing compensation-related policies in Bhutan and explore international best practices regarding such compensations.

Among the four recommendations submitted by the committee first is the need for relevant ministries and agencies to further work closely and harmonise existing policies to ensure clear guidelines for compensation eligibility and for timely and equitable support for the affected communities.

Secondly, it is the need for the government to strengthen the inter-sectorial task force for collaborative funding initiatives along with dedicated budget or endowment fund.

The committee also recommended having a new compensation act. This is to have clarity on the compensation amount.

Ugyen Tshering, the committee chairperson said, “Although Acts are in place such as the Forest Act, Livestock Act, and Disaster Management Acts, when it comes to these acts, it is stated that people have to be compensated but it is not clearly mentioned how much the compensation amount is. For example, if wild animals kill a cow how much to compensate is not mentioned. Similarly, it is also not clear how much to compensate if rain and hailstone damage one acre of crops. Therefore, we are recommending enacting a new compensation act.”

The committee also recommended that sustainable compensation through an insurance scheme is essential to provide financial security and protection for farmers.

During the deliberation, some members also requested to defer the review report and rework it.

Sonam Tobgyel, Trashigang’s National Council member said, “I have not seen how much our government agreed to compensate in the review report. Similarly, out of the two insurance companies in the country, I have not seen them agreeing to include livestock and crop damage under the insurance scheme. Therefore, from my perspective, I did not see the merit of the review report. So, I would like to request the house to defer the deliberation.”

Samdrup Jongkhar National Council member Tshewang Rinchen said, “I am hearing data which is not mentioned in the report and it would benefit us if it was mentioned in the report so that it will help us to submit recommendations. When it comes to the human-wildlife conflict, data is mentioned clearly in the review report. But when it comes to crop damage due to natural calamities, I could see only a few words and could not find the data.”

Similarly, some members also requested to include recommendations such as climate change disasters and national park-related recommendations in the review report.

National Council’s Eminent Member Phuntsho Rapten said, “If we are not able to find measures to protect crops from wild animals, how about looking for alternative cropping? In Trong Gewog, people say they want to cultivate coffee plants, as wild animals do not attack them. Therefore, if the committee could look into alternative cropping and include it in the recommendations, it will benefit in reducing human-wildlife conflict.”

The National Council chairperson asked the committee to rework on the review report starting today and make the necessary changes.

The members will continue deliberation on the review report on compensation-related policies for human-wildlife conflicts and crop damage due to natural calamities tomorrow.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Kipchu

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