Residents of the district and nearby areas have been plagued by repeated attacks by monkeys that have not only caused heavy losses to crops and fruit orchards but also caused injuries to people, in many cases children. The simians usually come in groups and take away whatever they can lay their hands on.
Several fruit growers in the region have suffered bruises while trying to safeguard their mango crops.
The Hiranagar and Anu areas in the town are apparently the worst-hit by the monkey menace due to the countless number of mango trees grown there. The locals do not fell these trees as they relish the mangoes during the monsoon season. However, the damage caused by the simians has forced fruit cultivators not to preserve these trees.
Though state forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmauri had recently told the state assembly that the population of monkeys in the state has fallen by about 55,000, according to the current census there has been a gradual increase in the number of the animals in the Hamirpur area. The minister had said the monkey population, which was 317,112 in the 2004 census, had dropped to a much lower figure in the latest one conducted in 2012.
Despite successful implementation of the monkey sterilization programme, it has still not been why the simian population has risen in several areas of Hamirpur district. According to official reports, 42,562 monkeys were found in the Hamirpur forest circle of Hamirpur, Una and Dehra of Kangra. Of these 13,473 were sterilized and were sent back from where they were captured.
Residents alleged the minister's statement was questionable as the population of monkeys in the state was rising steadily. Moreover, once monkeys were sterilized they were let off in various areas of Hamirpur district rather than be taken to the places from where they were come. As a result many people have stopped cultivating fruits and are turning towards government and private sector jobs.
Ramesh Sharma, a resident of the Galore area, said: “Farmers and fruit cultivators in my area have stopped sowing crops as monkeys are not allowing them to work in the fields. This area was known for its mango trees but now cultivators have been forced to axe them as the simians don't leave a single fruit”.
When contacted, a forest department spokesman said it was “doing its best” to curb the monkey menace. However, he did not spell out details on what action the department was taking.