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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Maharashtra Bull shark not on govt wildlife list no relief for Palghar fisherman who lost leg

Maharashtra: Bull shark not on govt wildlife list; no relief for Palghar fisherman who lost leg

Updated on: 04 March,2024 05:01 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ranjeet Jadhav |

With wildlife department unable to help Palghar fisherman who lost leg in shark attack, he appeals to forest department to reconsider his compensation claim

Maharashtra: Bull shark not on govt wildlife list; no relief for Palghar fisherman who lost leg

Shark attack survivor Hitesh Govari at his residence in Manor

A few weeks after the quiet hamlet of Dongarpada in Palghar district was rocked by a terrifying bull shark attack, Hitesh Govari, a 34-year-old villager who lost his left leg in the close encounter, opened up to mid-day about his traumatic experience and struggle to receive compensation. 

This reporter visited Manor last week to gain clarity on the events that had transpired.

The 34-year-old with his  ten-year-old daughter Vaishnavi, his mother and wife Vaishali (far left). Pics/Ranjeet JadhavThe 34-year-old with his ten-year-old daughter Vaishnavi, his mother and wife Vaishali (far left). Pics/Ranjeet Jadhav

Sitting in his modest home, Govari, the sole breadwinner of his family, expressed deep concern about the future of his children, due to his incapacity to continue working as a loader and fisherman. Adding to his plight is the cruel reality that, despite his severe injuries, Maharashtra compensation laws do not cover incidents involving bull sharks. As Govari awaits the acknowledgement of his case as an exceptional circumstance, he asks the forest department to empathise with him and 
offer compensation. 

That fateful evening

“I visited the Vaitarna riverbank on the evening of February 13 with my 10-year-old daughter Vaishnavi. After entering two or three-foot-deep water, I felt severe pain below my left knee. I had no idea what had happened, and as I tried to raise my leg, I saw that a large portion of the calf was missing. There was blood everywhere. 

Hitesh Govari, shark attack survivor

Vaishnavi, who was sitting on the riverbank, started shouting, and without giving it a thought, she knotted my shirt and her clothes over my damaged leg to prevent more blood loss. I am alive today due to my daughter and other villagers who rushed me to the hospital on time,” said Govari.

He added that all children in Adivasi padas grow up knowing basic first aid owing to their close connection with nature and injuries being a common occurrence.
Govari added that within seconds of the attack, he observed a massive fish, which he believed to be the bull shark.

The 34-year-old with his ten-year-old daughter, Vaishnavi, his mother and wife Vaishali (far left). Pics/Ranjeet JadhavThe 34-year-old with his ten-year-old daughter, Vaishnavi, his mother and wife Vaishali (far left). Pics/Ranjeet Jadhav

Govari was rushed to a local hospital in Manor shortly after the attack, but physicians advised his family to take him to Shri Vinoba Bhave Civil Hospital in Silvassa as the nature of the injury was serious and it required expert intervention.

The aftermath

“The injury was so serious that doctors had no choice but to amputate my leg. I’m grateful to the doctors for saving my life. What bothers me right now is what will happen to my two children. I was the primary breadwinner of the family, and with one leg, I wouldn’t be able to work as a loader. I used to earn Rs 15,000 per month. I have been told that my recovery will be costly, and specialists have warned me it could take five to six months. God knows how I’ll handle the daily expenses of my family,” he said.

Govari’s wife, Vaishali, is also worried as the family has to spend Rs 2,500-Rs 3,000 weekly on transportation alone to accompany her husband to Silvassa to get his wounds dressed.

She said, “We spend about Rs 4,000 each week on his treatment, including travel and medication. I am concerned about the future because he is the family’s sole breadwinner. The forest department should treat this as a case of human-wildlife conflict and compensate my husband as such victims receive permanent disability compensation.”

Govari’s mother stated that the family is in desperate need of money and that someone should step forward and offer assistance in their time 
of difficulty.


A senior forest department official who did not wish to be named said, “It’s a tragic situation, but despite being a case of HWC [human-wildlife conflict], we won’t be able to compensate the victims because a bull shark bite is not covered under the Maharashtra Payment of Compensation for Loss, Injury, or Damage Caused by Wild Animals Act, 2023.”

The state government compensates victims for the following types of injuries or damages caused due to wild animal attacks: loss of human life, permanent disability or major injury to humans, loss of cattle life, injury to cattle, damage to crops or fruit plants and property damage.

According to the Maharashtra Payment of Compensation for Loss, Injury or Damage Caused by Wild Animals Act, 2023, “wild animal” means tiger, leopard, bear, bison, wild pig, jackal, hyena, fox, crocodile, elephant, wild dog, deer, nilgai, monkey and langur and includes such other wild animals as the state government may, by notification published in the official gazette, specify.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 in India safeguards four shark species: the whale shark, Pondicherry shark, Ganges shark, and speartooth shark, making it illegal to capture, kill or sell them. This list does not include the bull shark so Govari might face it extremely difficult to get compensation from the forest department.

When contacted, the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Palghar, Madhumitha S was not available for comment.

Highest compensation

According to the data available exclusively with mid-day, 624 people were killed and over 5,000 injured in the state between January 2012 and January 2023 due to HWC. The Maharashtra forest department has paid over R450 crore in compensation due to HWC (including for human deaths, injuries, cattle loss and crop damage) in this period.

The highest number of deaths due to HWC, 98, took place in 2022-2023 (till January 2023), followed by 86 deaths in 2021-2022 and 82 in 2020-2021.

The highest number of human injuries due to HWC, 700, was recorded in 2015-2016, followed by 686 in 2016-017 and 648 in 2022-2023. The Maharashtra FD has paid R457.83 crore in compensation between January 1, 2012 and January 26, 2023.

The amount of financial aid provided to families of people killed by wild animals in Maharashtra is R25 lakh. A person receives R7.50 lakh in compensation if they are left permanently disabled as a result of the attack, and R5 lakh in compensation for serious injuries.

Feb 13
Day incident occurred

Rs 4,000
Govari’s weekly treatment expenditure

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