No more monkey business: Himachal forms panel to reign in stray dogs, monkeys
Over 60 cases of monkey bites are reported monthly at Indira Gandhi Medical College and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital
Looking to find a long-term solution to the state’s stray dog and monkey menace, the government has constituted an expert committee to look into the issue.
The same comes in the backdrop of the situation worsening to a point where even the Himachal Pradesh high court had to step in to address the issue — all amid a deafening silence from forest officials.
On an average, 60 to 70 cases of monkey bites are reported monthly at the two hospitals in Shimla — Indira Gandhi Medical College and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital. However, there is no data available on monkey and dog bites cases reported at private clinics and hospitals.
The committee composed of experts from the Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishvavidyalaya, Palampur, has been entrusted with finding effective solutions to the longstanding issue.
The state government has officially informed the HC of the initiative, with the court emphasising the urgency of the situation. A division bench presided over by chief justice MS Ramachandra Rao and justice Ajay Mohan Goel, has scheduled a hearing on the matter for November 6, 2023.
The court has, in the meantime, urged the municipal corporation to take immediate and effective measures to alleviate the concerns of Shimla’s residents. The court has also directed the civic body and the forest department to implement the recommendations put forth by the newly-formed expert committee.
The government assured the court that it would collaborate with the university to control the monkey problem and address the issue of unruly dogs.
The development comes in response to recent incidents, including the tragic death of a student in a monkey attack in Shimla. Another incident involving a girl falling from the third floor of her house after a monkey attacked her in the Dhanda area of the city had also emerged.
This is not the first occasion that monkey and dog immense have taken centre stage in Shimla, with the Centre also declaring nilgai, monkeys and wild boars as vermin in three states, including Himachal Pradesh.
In 2016, challenges were mounted against these notifications, however, the HC in July that year deferred the case to the Supreme Court — which later declined to stay the notifications, effectively closing the matter.
The previous permission to cull monkeys expired on February 4, 2020, and the state government did not seek a renewal from the Union ministry of environment and forests.
As Shimla faces the resurgence of these issues, the newly formed expert committee holds the hope of finding lasting solutions to ensure the safety and well-being of the city’s residents. The court’s hearing on November 6, 2023, is expected to shed further light on the path forward in dealing with this ongoing challenge.
Within Shimla, the monkey menace is more prevalent in localities like Fingask, Chotta Shimla, Jakhu, Sanjauli, Lower Bazar, Brockhurst, Khalini, Annandale, Kaithu, Summer Hill, Boileauganj, Camp Potters Hill, Observatory Hill, Mall Road and Richmond.