Deer menace has hit farmers badly in Madhya Pradesh’s Shajapur district and adjoining areas, which were largely unaffected by drought and fickle weather conditions prevailing in several parts of the state.
Farmers in the region, who recently raised their grievances before the district collector, say herds of deer and blackbucks have destroyed the standing Rabi crops, including wheat and masoor, over large tracts of land. They also accuse the state government of not paying heed to
The severity of crop damage is most visible in Shajapur town, Lasudiya and Lalakheri.However, crop damage is not the only thing farmers are fretting about. They also fear if a deer dies on their farm after consuming traces of fertilizers or pesticides used in crops, they may be booked under wildlife laws.
According to the forest department, deer population in Shajapur district is more than 1,100, and they are protected under the Wildlife Act.
Ghishu Singh, a farmer from Lasudiya village, told HT: “It has become very difficult to get rid of this problem as deer herds come early morning or in the evening. The population of these animals has been rising rapidly as they are getting sufficient food and water in the area.”
District collector Rajeev Sharma said, “This is not a new issue. Scores of farmers in the area are facing the same problem. As forest laws don’t allow anybody to kill or hurt wild animals, they only have to shoo them away.”
He said the administration and the forest department are now in the process of developing a corridor spread over 175.691 hectare land in Shujalpur tehsil with sufficient grass and water for herbivores, to find a permanent solution to the problem.
About compensation to farmers whose crops were damaged by animal attack, Sharma said, “They can submit their applications with the area revenue officer.”
Divisional forest officer (DFO) Rakesh Laheri said compensation to farmers was covered under Lok Seva Guarantee Scheme until 2012 and it was forest department’s responsibility to compensate them, but now the revenue department looks after it.
On the legal provision and action against farmers if any animal died on their field, Laheri said, “If it is proved that animal’s death is accidental, the department will take no action.”