A day after the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha expressed concern over the stray animals menace in the state, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members accused the ruling Congress of releasing monkeys, trapped from across the state, in their constituencies.
“A new mafia has emerged in the state— the monkey mafia,” said former public works department minister and Dharampur legislator Mahender Singh Thakur while participating in a debate initiated under the Vidhan Sabha’s rule 130 to discuss the present law and order situation of the state.
The debate was initiated by Dehra legislator and senior BJP leader Ravinder Singh Ravi and Kutlehar legislator Virender Kanwar. “It is a matter of grave concern that monkeys trapped from various parts of the state are being clandestinely released in the constituencies represented by the BJP legislators,” said Thakur. While the Congress members mocked Thakur’s claims, his views were endorsed by his party colleagues.
Denying the allegations, forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri said: “The BJP members are levelling baseless allegations to defame the ruling party.”
“People in my constituency have complained that the monkey population has suddenly shot up in the area. A person reported that he saw a monkey being released from a truck at an isolated place,” Ravi told HT outside the House.
Struggling to put an end to the monkey menace, the wildlife wing of the forest department has planned an exhaustive head count to ascertain the actual simian population that has been raising concern among the authorities as well as the agrarian community in the state.
The survey is aimed at enabling the department to evolve a better strategy for controlling the growing simian population. The state government has been devising various mechanisms to tackle the problem, but to no avail. In a study conducted by social organisation Gyan Vigyan Samiti two years back, 2,301 panchayats have been affected from the animal menace causing a loss of `400 crore to `500 crore annually.
According to a census conducted in 2004, the state had 3,17,112 monkeys. It dropped to 2,260,86 in the census conducted in 2012.
Year Cases of monkey attacks Relief paid
2004 to 2014 2,050 `96 lakh
· Estimated population: 2.27 lakh
· Sterilised: 94,000
· Sterilisation centre across the state: 7
Horticulture (2006 to 2014): `150 crore
Agriculture (2013 to 2014): `184 crore
Monkey population in state