Kerala declares man-wild conflicts a ‘disaster’

News Excerpt:

Recently, the Kerala cabinet decided to declare human-wildlife conflict as a ‘state-specific disaster’ in the wake of a recent spurt in human fatalities in wild animal attacks and announced several measures to mitigate the issue.

About the Man-Wild Conflicts in Kerala:

At least three people were reported killed in wild animal encounters in the state in a week, triggering huge protests by locals. Two other men were stomped to death by wild elephants and a farmer was killed in a wild gaur attack.

What is a Disaster?

  • A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability, and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic, and environmental losses and impacts.
  • The effect of the disaster can be immediate and localized, but is often widespread and could last for a long period. 
  • The effect may exceed the capacity of a community to cope using its resources and therefore may require assistance from external sources, which could include neighboring territories or those at the national or international levels.

Steps taken by the Kerala govt to resolve the issue:

  • The cabinet has decided to involve the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) in coordination with other government departments in finding solutions. 
  • Committees will be formed at the state, district, and grassroots levels and responsibilities and modes of operations will be finalized.
  • The state-level committee will have the chief minister as the president, the chief secretary as the convenor, and ministers of forests, revenue, local self-government institutions, and SC/ST welfare as members. 
  • This committee will provide essential directions at the state level.
  • Another control committee will be set up at the state level with a chief secretary as the president and secretaries of home, revenue, forest, LSG, SC/ST, agriculture departments, head of the forest department, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), and chief wildlife warden and member secretary of disaster management department as members.
  • The government has decided to appoint the Chief Wildlife Warden as the nodal officer for the human-wildlife conflict and set up a control room at the headquarters of the forest department with adequate communication facilities.
  • Other important measures announced are as follows:
    • Appointing more temporary watchers in areas inhabited by people where wild animal attacks are frequent.
    • Clearing dense vegetation in private estates, and plantations close to actual forests.
    • Strengthening rapid response teams with more personnel, equipment, and vehicles.
    • Formation of special alert committees at forest stations and ensuring adequate water supply within forests for wild animals.
  • Kerala govt will also convene meetings with officials of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as part of building coordination in mitigating the conflict.

Why has the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) been involved?

  • At present, managing man-animal conflict is the responsibility of the forest department, which acts as per the Wild Life Protection Act. Once the issue is declared a state-specific disaster, the onus to deal with it shifts to the state disaster management authority, which, powered by the Disaster Management Act, can take quicker and more decisive action. 
  • Once the issue is under the disaster management authority, it can take actions overriding other norms, including those under the Wildlife Protection Act.
    • As per section 71 of the Disaster Management Act, no court (except the Supreme Court or a High Court) shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of anything done by relevant authorities in pursuance of any power conferred by this Act. 
    • Section 72 of the Disaster Management Act says that the provisions of this Act will have an overriding effect on any other law during the specific period that a disaster has been declared.
    • According to the present disaster-management norms, Cyclones, Drought, Earthquake, Fire, Flood, Tsunami, Hailstorms, Landslides, Avalanches, Cloudbursts, Pest attacks, Frost, and Cold waves have already been declared as disasters covered under the SDRF (State Disaster Response Fund).
    • Coastal erosion, lightning, strong wind, sunstroke, and soil piping are also considered State-specific disasters.

Other state-specific disasters:

  • In 2015, Odisha had declared snakebite a state-specific disaster. 
  • In 2020, Kerala declared Covid as a state-specific disaster. 
  • Besides, heat waves, sunburn, and sunstroke have been declared so in 2019, the phenomenon of soil piping in 2017, and lightning and coastal erosion in 2015.


The Kerala government's decision to declare human-wildlife conflict as a 'state-specific disaster' reflects a proactive approach to addressing the escalating issue of wild animal attacks. By involving the State Disaster Management Authority and implementing a comprehensive action plan, the government aims to mitigate the conflict and ensure the safety of its citizens.

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