It’s monkey business in Himachal Pradesh literally, as the opposition BJP on Wednesday said the forest department is deliberately releasing sterilised monkeys in its members’ constituencies.
The issue raised tempers in the Himachal assembly during Question Hour when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Mohinder Singh alleged that the government had failed to ensure the monkeys were caught scientifically. The former minister said they were released in the areas of BJP legislators after vasectomy.
Replying to his assertions, forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri said the government did not believe in such cheap politics.
In fact, he said, it was during the previous BJP regime that the monkeys were released in other areas.
Intervening in the heated arguments, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said a private party had been engaged to catch and release monkeys and there was a chance of error and it should be checked.
He said the scientific approach should be that the monkeys should be dropped at the same place where they were caught so that their group remained the same.
Stating that the population of monkeys has declined, the forest minister said as per the latest census in 2015, the number of monkeys in the state was 2,07,614, while in 2013 it was 2,26,086. He said 52,415 monkeys were sterilised in the past three years after which their population was declining.
The minister said the census of the blue bull and wild boars has not been conducted.
He said the wild animals have damaged agriculture and horticulture crops worth Rs184.28 crore in 2013-14, with the total damage being about Rs 150 crore from 2006-11.
He said the high court has stayed the issue of permits to the farmers to kill the monkeys that are damaging their crops.