The Union Environment Ministry has now mandated the use of Aadhaar for compensation under the Project Elephant in cases such as human-elephant conflicts, among others.
The Centrally sponsored scheme of 'Project Elephant' is implemented by the state governments with the main objective to provide financial and technical support to the Elephant Range states of India for the protection of elephants, their habitats and corridor, to combat the issue of human-animal conflict and welfare of the captive elephants.
Lot of work in the forest department is done via contract labourers. Now, they too would get paid through the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme.
"The scheme provides for ex-gratia payment for loss of life or injury, damage to property or crop, etc., and also rewards the informers and payment of expenses on intelligence gathering respectively to the villagers, farmers, and other individuals," said a senior Ministry official.
All such individuals would need to furnish proof of possession of an Aadhaar number and undergo Aadhaar authentication. "In case, any individual does not have Aadhaar at that point of time, he or she will need to enrol and offer proof of registration," the official said, adding, "In case of individuals joining our training programmes, too would need Aadhaar card and if not, would need to enrol for it."
As per a reply in the Lok Sabha, the number of persons that died in human-elephant conflict was 516 in the year 2016-17; 506 in the year 2017-18, and 454 in 2018-19. The total compensation paid in case of human deaths due to elephant attacks was Rs 1,495.30 lakh in 2016-17; Rs 1,821.00 in 2017-18 and Rs 1,498.00 lakh in 2018-19.
The Ministry provides financial assistance as ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh in case of death or permanent incapacitation to a human; Rs 2 lakh for grievous injury; Rs 25,000 per person as cost of treatment for minor injury. The compensation for loss of property / crops are paid by the states / UTs as per norms prescribed.
The government has always harped on the benefits of using Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services or benefits or subsidies as it "simplifies the government delivery processes, brings in transparency and efficiency, and enables beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly in a convenient and seamless manner."
This is applicable with immediate effect across all elephant range states of India, except Assam and Meghalaya, where some issues related to Aadhaar are being sorted out.