The Wildlife (Protection) Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 which gives freehand to villagers to protect their agricultural crops and livestock from wild animals was passed by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
State Forest Minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha had introduced the amendment bill in the Assembly.
The legislation empowers the villagers to drive away ‘any wild animal’ which enters in any part of the land or building of a person ‘with the objective of destroying agriculture/horticulture produce or of killing the domestic cattle’.
The public can chase away the wild animal by use of stick, weapons (other than firearms) or by pelting of stones.
“…and if as a consequence of such chasing, the concerned wild animal is injured or killed, such incident of injury or death should be treated as an accident and no penal liability will accrue and the body or carcass of the wild animal shall be the property of the government.”
However, the public cannot enter into the forest land while chasing the wild animal away from their land, the bill further asserted.
During the discussions on the amendment bill, MLAs Rup Narayan Chamling and Kunga Nima Lepcha sought to understand on the jurisdiction involved while chasing away the wild animals, particularly in forest fringe areas.
They also sought clarity on weapons that can be used by the people to chase away the wild animals from their private holdings.
In reply, the Forest Minister said the amendment bill would go to Delhi where suggestions would be made on what kind of rectifications need to be done.
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling speaking on the amendment bill said the government brought the amendment bill as wild animals enter agricultural land, eat and destroy crops apart from attacking livestock of the villagers.
Chamling, however, appealed to the people to use the provisions of the new law in a correct manner to protect their crops and livestock.