As per the Budget Proposals of 2016, to bring an end to the human-elephant conflict, the Government has built a 448km electric fence, utilising a part of the Rs. 607 million allocated last year.
According to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development, monies were also spent to buy necessary equipment, and for the welfare of both animals and the people who are affected by the conflict.
Deputy Minister of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Palitha Kumara Thewarapperuma told the Parliament that the compensation for the loss of property and lives were also increased as part of the Government program. “We are now paying Rs. 500,000 for a death of a person. Some years ago, it was Rs. 100,000,” he said.
UPFA Joint Opposition lawmaker Bandula Gunawardena, expecting the Government to utilise the full allocation within the stipulated period, said: “The Government has allocated Rs. 4000 million for the next three years to find a permanent solution for the human-elephant conflict. So, within each year, you need to spend Rs. 1.3 billion. But, to this date, the Government has spent only a limited amount of money. Unless you do a balanced spending, there will be no impact from this allocation.”
UPFA Joint Opposition lawmaker Wimal Weerawansa, questioning the reasoning behind abandoning the State plan to relocate a few elephants found in the Sinharaja forest, said: “I firstly thank the President for appointing you and your Minister, having gone through a scientific process. Recently, you and your Minister were involved in relocating some elephants in Sinharaja forest. You were unable proceed with this project due to the involvement of the President.”
According to the Deputy Minister, the few elephants in Sinharaja have little time to live and the relocation has to be conducted with extra care. “These elephants have less than fifteen years to live. They are very sensitive animals, and we have to do this very carefully. This is a National issue. Do you know that an elephant dies in Sri Lanka every day? These two elephants come to the village due to cold weather and go back to the jungle,” he said. (AH)