Odisha govt to provide insurance to certified snake handlers

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government will provide insurance cover to certified snake handlers, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramila Mallik said on Tuesday.

The Forest, Environment and Climate Change Department will pay the premium, while the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) will provide training to snake handlers, she said.

After receiving a detailed proposal from the Forest and Environment department, the training programme will be started, she added.

Snake Helpline, an organisation working for the rescue and rehabilitation of snakes, welcomed the decision.

“We are vulnerable to death and permanent disability as we handle poisonous snakes. The decision of the government is a welcome step. However, some more steps are needed to be taken for the safety of both snake and rescuers,” said Snake Helpline general secretary Subhendu Mallik.

Last month, the government issued guidelines for the rescue of snakes from human habitations by certified snake handlers.

Only the certified snake handlers can participate in the rescue and release operations, and they are required to adhere strictly to the stipulated protocols, failing which will invite penal actions as per the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, it said.

Incidents of snakebites are common in Odisha, and the government declared it a state disaster in 2015.

About 40 per cent of total disaster deaths are attributed to snakebites in the state. From 2015 to 2022, 6,351 people died due to snakebites in the state, and from January to July this year, 34 people were killed.

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