Lotha Hoho, on behalf of the Lotha community and the people of Wokha district, vehemently condemned the “unbecoming and irresponsible attitude and behaviour” of Forest, Environment & Climate Change and Village Guards minister CL John at the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) on September 12.
In a press note, Lotha Hoho chairman Er. Mhondamo Ovung and general secretary Tsupon Murry said that CL John, while replying to MLA Achumbemo Kikon’s query on the Human Animal Conflict under Wokha district, had literally made fun of the issue as though it was a declared conventional war where loss of life was less on the side of people and hence “people are winning” with loss of only 8 (eight) lives.
“Are eight human lives not so valuable for the Forest minister and his department? If the Minister and his Forest department do not value even human life; why talk about Wild life Conservation? Is wild life more precious than human life, for the Forest department?” the hoho asked. While stating that John had, on the last day of Assembly, subtly apologised; the hoho said that he should have been more responsible, befitting his status.
The hoho has asked the Forest department and Wild Life Warden to physically inspect the elephant dwelling areas and practically work for Wildlife conservation; and not by way of sacrificing human life.
LH said it would confidently assert that for the people of Wokha district, human life was more precious than any other, be it wildlife, domestic animal or any other commodity.
The hoho said that the Forest department and Wild life Warden cannot be allowed to only issue Principles on paper; while sitting in their comfort chairs and thereby allowing marauding wild elephants to kill human beings and destroy agriculture crops.
It reminded that most Nagas still survive on agriculture and crops cannot just be made to be destroyed by wild animals, especially elephants.
While mentioning that Lotha Hoho was not against wildlife conservation, LH said it cannot be at the cost of human life or at the cost of sustaining crops.
The hoho was of the view that the Forest department either maintain a Wildlife Sanctuary; with all the required conservation and protection arrangements, in its true sense and protect the affected people and crops. LH said that when there is not even Forest guard, why prevent people to act defensively?
It also asserted that if a Sanctuary cannot be maintained, theoretical conservation (only on paper) cannot be allowed; and the affected people cannot be prevented to take any protective action.
LH pointed out that the hoho has not seen even any signboard on awareness or anywhere in the affected and vulnerable areas. Surely Human life is much more precious than any other life and wildlife conservation is not feasible, without any sanctuary and more so without even a single signboard/display board on awareness/guideline/precautionary/regulation; anywhere in the affected areas, LH stated.
Further, LH categorically stated that the Forest department would be held accountable for any loss of life and for destruction of valuable crops– agriculture, horticulture and cash crops.
Although no amount of compensation can truly compensate the loss of human life, LH asked the Forest minister to give enough compensation to the kin of the victims of elephant cruelty, at least to the tune of Rs.50 lakh only, and a government job for each to sustain the family of the concerned victim besides appropriately compensating for the destroyed crops.