Even as the government is grappling to contain the primate problem, the rhesus macaque monkeys are back in the centre stage of politics in Himachal Pradesh.
The Communist Party of India (CPI) has demanded that the government export the monkeys as it was unable to cull them, even after permission from the environment ministry.
Communist party’s state secretariat member Dr Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, in an open letter to forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmuari, hit out at him for his indecisiveness on culling the monkeys that have forced famers in large areas of state to abandon traditional agriculture .
“At a time when the Vidhan Sabha’s monsoon session is in progress, the party wants the government to come out with a concrete solution to contain the monkey menace. The party has given many suggestions to the ministers who, instead of finding a solution to the problem, are seeking suggestions from the public, that too after the centre government declared them as vermin in Himachal,” Tanwar said.
It was in the end of May that the central government, heeding to the state government’s request, allowed killing of monkeys in the 38 tehsils of 10 districts of the state where the farmers were most affected.
The party, in its sarcasmloaded letter, congratulated forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouari for a accepting that wild animals were destroying crops and causing harm to humans.
“Farmer bodies in the state had been raising the issue with both the state as well as central government over the last decade,” Tanwar said. “At this stage, seeking suggestions from the people on containing the monkey problem is not relevant,” he said.
The Left party also hit out at the government for its indecisiveness on curtailing the monkey population.
“While requesting the Centre to declare monkeys as vermin, the government must have thought of ways to control and cull them,” the letter said.
“If not the government, at least the wild life wing of the forest department must have apprised the minister about a strategy, after monkeys were declared vermin,” Tanwar said in the letter.
The CPIM suggested that if the government does not have faith in the state’s wildlife experts, it should learn about animal control from other nations facing the same problem.
The party claimed that of the 151 tehsils, monkeys had destroyed crops in 149. The party also raised questions about the monkey sterlisation program of the state. “Monkey sterilisation is only effective if more than 70 % simians are sterlised. Only 40% simians have been sterlised in the last ten years,” he said.
Last month, the forest department had sought suggestion from various stake holders, public representatives and social activists on culling monkeys. However, so far, the government is yet to analyse the suggestions.
Kisan Sabha has asked the government to hire former soldiers to shoot down marauding monkeys in the state.