Man-tiger conflict an election issue in Joynagar
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
KATAMARI (West Bengal): Sudhangsu Betal of this village in the Sunderbans still treasures the pugmarks of the Royal Bengal Tiger that strayed into his home a few months ago. His voice is choked for, the tiger later died in the custody of Forest department officials.
For Mr. Betal and thousands of people living in villages on the edge of the mangrove forest and co-existing with the ferocious animal for generations, the tiger is not to blame. Rather, they allege, inefficiency on the part of political leaders and corrupt practices among the forest officials were the causes for the present situation. This is a major election issue in several such villages that fall under the Joynagar (SC) constituency, which goes to the polls on Wednesday. Almost entirely dependent on forest resources for sustenance, villagers of Katamari, Deulbari, Jharkhali and Debipur say lack of development force them to infiltrate tiger territories.