The late Mr Murigeppa Tammangol (inset) and a wreath laying ceremony during his funeral
Mysuru, Karnataka, March 15, 2017: IFAW-WTI has provided ex-gratia support of Rs 100,000 to the family of 28-year-old Murigeppa Tammangol, a forest guard who was killed on duty on February 19 while trying to douse a forest fire that had broken out in Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The late Mr Tammangol, who hailed from Vijaywada, had joined the Karnataka Forest Department in 2011. He was among a team of frontline staff involved in preliminary fire-fighting operations in the Kalkere Range and is believed to have collapsed due to smoke inhalation, having been trapped amidst the burning lantana, an exotic weed that has enveloped vast swathes of the tiger reserve. Forest fires are an annual affair in Bandipur due to its dry deciduous vegetation, but the situation has been exacerbated this year by the intense drought affecting the region.
Mr Tammangol’s death has stunned conservationists and forest department personnel alike. “A strong wind was blowing from all directions and Murugappa could not escape the spreading flames”, said Mr Rao, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. Responding within 48 hours of the tragic incident, IFAW-WTI wire transferred the ex-gratia support to his legal heir, Smt Sarasvati Jannappagol, on February 21.
IFAW-WTI’s Supplementary Accident Assurance Scheme is the only NGO-run scheme in India that brings frontline forest staff under an ex-gratia umbrella, providing coverage of up to Rs 100,000 in case of death and a partial amount in case of permanent disability.
The forest departments of 23 states have joined this scheme thus far, with over 20,000 frontline forest personnel across the country having been covered against death or disability while on duty. Nearly 150 families have availed this ex-gratia benefit in the last 15 years. The Van Rakshak (Guardians of the Wild) Project, under which this scheme falls, has also trained and equipped over 16,000 forest personnel in more than 150 Protected Areas of India, as well as trans-boundary areas in Bhutan.