It’s votes-for-monkeys in Himachal | india | Hindustan Times
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It’s votes-for-monkeys in Himachal

It’s once again that time when monkeys are among the foremost concerns of political parties. No, not for any campaign requirement, but because farmers in Himachal, bothered by the “pests”, want them off their fields, and are demanding parties present viable plans for that, Archana Phull reports.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2009 02:23 IST
Archana Phull

It’s once again that time when monkeys are among the foremost concerns of political parties. No, not for any campaign requirement, but because farmers in Himachal, bothered by the “pests”, want them off their fields, and are demanding parties present viable plans for that.

There are over 3 lakh monkeys in the hill state, and 9 lakh farming families who have time and again been promised riddance from the simians during every election over the past few years. No solution has, however, worked, and this time the farmers are on edge.

Monkeys are a major nuisance, especially to smaller farmers, as they munch away a major chunk of their cash crops like pea, tomato and garlic and at times completely destroy traditional crops like maize, wheat, and even fruit.

According to a survey by the Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a movement against the wild animal menace, various animals cause crop damage amounting to Rs 325-375 crore in the state annually. Of this, monkeys account for around 55 per cent. There is, though, no study by the Forest Department.

“We are going to ask each and every candidate about his plan to tackle the monkey menace,” says Ramesh Verma, a farmer in Chokar panchayat.

Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti activist, Dr Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, also a retired conservator of forests, says: “Political parties need to make their stand on the issue clear at the national level. The export of wild animals, mainly monkeys (banned in 1978) should be restarted. For this, Parliament would have to amend the relevant law.”