Revival of breeding project gives hope to Bengal’s snake charmers
Bengal Government with NGOs has planned to set up snake breeding farms.kolkata Updated: Sep 11, 2016 14:13 IST
Around 75,000 snake charmers in Bengal can hope of a secure livelihood with assured regular income as the Mamata Banerjee government is all set to follow the Chinese model in setting up snake-breeding farms.
The backward classes welfare department in association with non-government organisations (NGOs) has decided to set up such firms in different pockets of the state and involve snake charmers to ensure a steady income for them.
Sources from the backward class welfare department said the idea was originally conceived in 2008 by the Left Front government.
“However, for some reason, the project could never move from planning to implementation. Now, the present government has decided to revive the project,” a state government official said.
He said many snake charmers were forced to switch to different vocations as their trade was in violation of wildlife protection norms and some even took to crime to make ends meet. “Now, if this project is implemented successfully, they could return to their original means of livelihood,” the state official said.
A team from the backward classes welfare department is to leave for China shortly to study the model for developing snake- breeding firms.
As part of this project, the state government will provide funds for setting up the firms and train snake charmers on the nitty-gritties of snake breeding with help from NGOs.
“These firms will be run as cooperatives under the supervision of the backward classes welfare department. This would help prevent misuse or smuggling of the snake venom produced there. The venom will be produced only by state-approved laboratories for research & development and the manufacture of life saving medicines,” the state official said.
In 2006, the Tamil Nadu government adopted the Chinese model of breeding to help snake charmers of the Irula tribal community in the Niligiri region return to their original source of livelihood.
“We learnt the model had been extremely successful in the Niligiri region. It encouraged us to revive the project here,” the state official said.