Notwithstanding the claims of Himachal Pradesh forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmauri that the population of monkeys has come down by 55,000 in state as per the latest census, population of simians have shown an upward trend in Hamirpur during the period.
The minister had told the state Vidhan Sabha recently that the population of monkeys was 3,17,112 in the census conducted in 2004 and it had dropped to 2,260,86 in the latest census conducted in 2012.
However, according to the report of the district office of the department of forest, the population of monkeys that was 7,869 in year 2010 has risen to 11,869 in June 2013, when the census of the simians was held all over the state.
Monkeys in the district have become a major nuisance for people and at several places people have stopped sowing crops owing to the destruction caused by monkeys and other wild animals.
Surprisingly, this situation has taken place at a time, when the previous BJP government in state had set up a monkey sterilisation centre at Shashtar village of the district, where as many as 22,228 monkeys were sterilised during 2006 to 2013. Only 42 monkeys were sterilised in 2006-07 and 2008-09, where as 3,432 were sterilised in 2009-10.
Thereafter 6,111 monkeys were sterilised in 2010-11, 7,162 in 2011-12, 5,045 in 2012-13 and 436 in 2013-14 by August 2013.This included 8,000 monkeys in Hamirpur district alone, said Pradeep Thakur, conservator of forests, Hamirpur. The department proposed to sterilise 2,500 monkeys at Shashatar Centre during 2013-14. The state government claims to have sterilised 69,000 monkeys in state since the monkeys sterilisation scheme was launched.
According to the minister, the state government has launched a scheme for developing monkey parks with fruits and food bearing plants to provide habitat for them in the forest areas and monkeys were in these parks after sterilisation.
Though the state government claims that the impact of the monkey sterilisation programme has shown a good result, yet it is not understood why the monkey population has risen in the centrally located district.
The locals alleged that the monkey sterilisation programme had proved to be a big failure in the district and once monkeys were sterilised they were let off in various parts of the district rather than sending them back to places from where they were brought to the district for sterilisation.
However, Pradeep Thakur denied the allegations. He said the department was keen to take sterilised monkeys to the places from where they were brought to any centre for sterilisation.
Meanwhile, alarmed over the increasing attacks of the simians in the district, the district consumer protection organisation has already demanded closure of the Shashat Sterilisation Centre of the department and has taken effective steps to check the growing activities of the simians in the district.
The nefarious activities of the wild animals especially monkeys have increased in all parts of the district and Hamirpur town was not an exception. The situation has taken an alarming trend in the Anu area as well as the forest colony of the town, which is surrounded by dense pine trees.
Monkeys enter the houses and even attack human beings, including children. Sensing the alarming situation, parents too avoid sending their wards alone to areas, where monkeys are found.