The Jaipur Municipal Corporation has no emergency plans to handle simians on city roads even as cases of monkey bites and fatal accidents due to them continue to rise in the Pink City.
All that the corporation is planning now is part of a long-term project, like sterilization of monkeys, floating tenders for catchers and monkeys’ rehabilitation in jungles.
However, official figures suggest that monkey menace needs to be dealt with on a war footing. At least five people have lost their life during one month in monkey-related accidents and over 25 cases of simian bites have been reported from various hospitals this year. The highest number of bites has been reported from Gangauri Hospital. Hospital superintendent Ajay Mathur said since January 1 to April 25, the hospital had received 23 cases of monkey bites.
But, what is the cause of the rise in monkey population?
A wildlife expert said rapid urbanization was fast breaking down natural home (jungle) of monkeys. Because of this, the homeless simians are entering human establishments in search of food. However, he said religious beliefs, like feeding monkeys was as good as an offering to Lord Hanuman, were proving to be an open invitation to animal-man conflicts.
Recently, 14-year-old Nakshtra Maheshwari lost his life on Sunday when he was chased by monkeys on the sixth floor terrace of his house and eventually slipped off the building. Maheshwari is not the only one. About 15 days ago, a girl fatally fell with her two-wheeler when a monkey confronted her on the road. Likewise, three more residents of Kanwar Nagar, Galta Gate and Tonk Phatak respectively died due to monkey menace.
According to records, the municipal corporation floats tenders for monkey catchers every year. But, it had failed to float a fresh one after the old one expired this February.
JMC commissioner Ashutosh Pednekar, however, said the new tender couldn’t be published as the JMC had not paid Rs 9 crore to newspapers. “An advisory in this regards was also issued by Indian Newspapers Society,” he said, adding, as an emergency measure the corporation had released Rs 1 lakh in this regard.
Mayor Nirmal Nahata said, “There has been negligence from the officials’ side. We will look into it and take a necessary action in this regard.” He said sterilization of monkeys could be an effective alternative. But, it will only be considered after checking with religious and legal experts on the issue.
However, chief wild life warden GV Reddy said, “Sterilization can be a solution. But we have to understand that their area of habitat is reducing and they are getting easy food in the city because of religious sentiments. We need to discourage this habit so that they search for natural food in jungles.”
According to figures, at least 750 monkeys were caught in 2014-15 and 800 in 2013-14. Under the last tender approved by JMC, the monkey catcher was given Rs 500 per catch.