Some MPs have united to tackle a common adversary of many lawmakers: the Capital’s simians.
And it’s no monkey business. For years, efforts to make Lutyens’ Delhi a monkey-free zone have all but failed. The simians managed to enter, literally, the corridors of power in various Bhavans, North and South Block, and other government offices apart from finding shelter in New Delhi’s green cover.
The House committee of the Rajya Sabha, responsible for allotment and maintenance of its MPs’ accommodation, wants to take a different approach to tackle the problem of monkeys and also stray dogs. It has sought public opinion and experts’ views to prepare a report after “studying in detail” the issue.
To start with, panel chairman VP Singh Badnore refused to dub the unwanted presence of monkeys as a menace. “I am an animal lover and a conservationist. It is not a menace. It is all about management,” he told HT on Thursday.
Badnore is flooded with complaints from MPs against the animals. Stealing food, attacking family members, scratching and biting people – the animals have done it all.
“We want to take a comprehensive view on how to stop the problems faced by MPs from simians and dogs. I have also spoken to the wildlife board and NDMC. I am hopeful that the panel’s report will not only be helpful for Delhi but also come in handy for cities like Jaipur or Bangalore,” Badnore, a BJP MP from Rajasthan, said.
Delhi authorities had identified the Aravalli hills to relocate the monkeys caught from the Lutyens zone. But the experiment failed as the simians grew in numbers and fanned out in search of fruits. Locals objected to the place being used for relocation as they faced animal attacks, too.
The monkey menace is not entirely a new experience for the MPs. In 2004, when Mani Shankar Aiyar became a minister, he refused to go to his allotted bungalow on Kamaraj Marg as the unused accommodation had become a night shelter of choice for monkeys. In 2012, the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee once lamented that monkeys were eating his home-grown pumpkins.
Mukherjee had suggested that more fruit-bearing trees be planted in the outskirts of Delhi so that the simians did not have to visit government offices or ministers’ houses in search of food.
In another innovative idea, the BJP-led New Delhi municipality had hired young men disguised as langurs to keep rival monkeys away. The NDMC pays between Rs 6,000 and Rs 9,000 to the head of the group who hires other men for the job.
To tackle stray dogs, urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu had earlier said a team of catchers had been hired to visit Parliament House and surrounding areas twice a week.