DARBHANGA/ ARA: The rising incidents of out-of-control simians raiding agriculture farms, invading homes and attacking people have created panic in Darbahanga and Madhubani districts of Mithila region in north Bihar and Bhojpur in western part of the state.
“The situation is very scary. The list of patients visiting government health facilities with monkey bite is increasing every day,” said Dr Satish Kumar Sinha, deputy superintendent of sadar hospital at Ara in Bhojpur district, 55km west of Bihar capital Patna.
“On an average, five to ten patients come to Ara sadar hospital for anti-rabies vaccination,” Sinha said, adding that he had to recently spend Rs 60,000 on erecting an iron grille gate at his Mansarovar Colony house on Hospital Road for safety from the “rampaging monkeys”.
Dr Chitraranjan Roy, head of preventive and social medicines at Darbhanga Medical College Hospital, 130 km north of Patna, said the government-owned health facility had been receiving four to five case of monkey bite daily. The figure in the district could be much higher as many patients also visited the sadar hospital and private nursing homes for treatment, he said.
A senior forest official at Darbhanga said the department was neither suitably equipped nor had the requisite expertise to contain the monkey menace, a statewide phenomenon.
He said a Patna-based team, entrusted by the state environment and forest department recently to trap monkeys at Muzaffarpur in north Bihar, performed very poorly. The entire exercise cost the exchequer Rs 36,000 as the team stayed there for three months and managed to ‘catch’ only one monkey, the official, not willing to be identified, added.
In Narpati Nagar panchayat of Madhubani district in Bihar’s Mithila region, 170 km north of Patna, a farmer said he would have to stop agrarian work for fear of monkeys. “They come in hordes, destroy crops and harm our children,” said a villager Sanjiv Kumar Singh.
“My 12-year-old son was badly injured by monkeys and he was referred to AIIMS in New Delhi for advance medication,” said Shatrughan Pandit of Narpati Nagar.
“Haunted by monkeys, villagers of Kanakpur under Narpati Nagar panchayat also wrote to the Madhubani district collector. But nothing happened,” said Aghnu Yadav, state unit general secretary of Hind Mazdoor Sabha.
Similarly, about 50 villagers of Naruar panchayat of Jhanjarpur block, also in Madhubani district, have decided to call on the subdivisional officer with a signed petition to get rid of the monkey problem.
“We have been facing miseries due to the monkey menace for the last five years. Neither can we grow vegetables, nor are we able to save our mango orchards from destruction unleashed by simians,” said Ashok Kumar Jha, 55. They are too intimidating to be scared away, he added.
At Darbhanga town, also in Mithila , people complained that “monkeys come in groups and inflict a lot of damage to our property”.
Amreshwari Charan Sinha of Mohalla Jurawan Singh saidhis daughter Namrata Sinha, 20, was bitten by a monkey and she had to be administered anti-rabies vaccine, costing nearly Rs 7000.
Divisional forest officer (DFO), Darbhanga, Ram Kumar Jha said the department was constrained to take the required measure due to lack of expertise and resources. The state government had made a provision for payment of Rs 500 for each monkey caught, another forest department officer said, adding that there was no taker for the scheme.
Responding to letter from Bhojpur DFO Suresh Prasad, a team of trappers from Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park in Patna visited Ara on April 30 and caught 16 monkeys from New Karman Tola locality.
Prasad blamed the monkey menace on “mindless felling of trees” for construction of buildings and roads. “Naturally, the monkeys have no option but to move towards urban settlements,” he said.
Subhash Kumar Singh, a civil court employee, and Pratima Singh, an advocate, the areas haunted by the simians were Nawada, Karman Tola, New Karman Tola, Babu Bazar, New Area Babu Bazar, MP Bag, Maulabag, Madan Ji Ka Hata, Station Road and Gola mohalla. The people of these areas were living in constant fear,” they added.
Anjana Srivastava of New Area Babu Bazar said the problem was earlier limited to day time only. But now, the monkeys stay in residential areas even in night. “The younger ones often damage water pipes by swinging on them, resulting in snapping of supply and causing waterlogging in the town,” she said.
Nimisha Shandilya of Nawada locality said the people now had an extra expenditure, replacing items damaged by the monkeys.