Delhi Cantt board to fine people feeding monkeys
Till now, no such restriction on feeding the simians has been imposed by any of the other four local bodies of the city. On Thursday, Singh confirmed to HT that the order has been issued and fines up to ₹5000 can be issued
The Delhi cantonment board (DCB) issued an order on Thursday stating that people feeding monkeys near human habitation will be fined. The warning added that the incidents of man-monkey conflict are on the increase in various parts of Delhi.
“The public is hereby warned not to feed monkeys in human habitation particularly in residential colonies and in the vicinity of religious places. Anyone found feeding the monkeys in human habitation will be challaned or fined in accordance with existing municipal laws,” the order issued by the officer-in-charge (OIC) sanitation Delhi Cantonment Board Gyanendra Singh stated.
Till now, no such restriction on feeding the simians has been imposed by any of the other four local bodies of the city. On Thursday, Singh confirmed to HT that the order has been issued and fines up to ₹5000 can be issued. “We are empowered to issue fines up to ₹5000 as per the Cantonment regulations 2006,” he added.
The Cantonment comprises an area of approximately 10,521 acres. It also covers residential areas and markets such as Sadar Bazar, Shastri Bazar, Nangal Raya, Mehram Nagar, and Naraina village besides ridge areas.
Officials from the veterinary departments of the municipal corporations stated that they have not issued any such orders. A senior veterinary department official from South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said that the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act does not have any provision for fining people for feeding monkeys or dogs.
“A meeting was held last month by the chief wildlife warden with all the stakeholder departments where the issue of monkeys was discussed. It was stated that fines may be issued but we don’t have any bylaws to support such fines,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Having relocated more than 21,000 monkeys to Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary over the last decade, Delhi still does not have any official count of monkeys in open areas or sanctuaries. The SDMC official said that the project has only led to an increase in the man-monkey conflict in South Delhi areas as monkeys from all over Delhi are relocated to Asola Bhatti, which has no natural food source or boundary to prevent the entry of monkeys into residential areas.
Ved Pal, councillor from Aya Nagar ward, which is located right next to the relocation area,, said that the whole region has been facing an increasing number of monkey attacks over the last 10 years. “There is no natural food source in the sanctuary so monkeys enter kitchens. There have been complaints from several schools about attacks during lunchtime. The water tankers on several houses have been damaged. On roads along Asola you can see groups of hundreds of monkeys,” he added.
The impacted region with increased conflict includes Aya Nagar, Tughlaqabad extension, Jaunapur, Fatehpur Beri, Asola, Dera Mandi and Bhati.
Poonam Bhati, who represents Tughlaqabad extension ward, echoed similar concerns about the rising monkey attacks in the area.
The relocation of captured monkeys to the Bhati mines area started in 2007 after a Delhi high court order. In 2007, deputy mayor SS Bajwa died of head injuries after falling from the terrace of his house, following an attack by monkeys.
The official relocation data for 2021 presented by municipal commissioners in November shows that the East Delhi Municipal Corporation has managed to catch and relocate 45 monkeys to Asola Bhatti while the North MCD relocated 58 monkeys and the SDMC shifted 336 monkeys. An SDMC veterinary department official said that around 50-60% simians were caught from areas around the Radha Soami Satsang Beas ashram when a Covid treatment centre was being operated at the site. The civic body offers a compensation of ₹2400 per monkey to monkey catchers for this job.
“Despite providing the highest rates in the country, monkey catchers have been reluctant to work in Delhi due to fear of legal cases being filed against them. The pandemic has further worsened the situation. There are only three monkey catchers currently working with us,” the official said.
Over the last few years, Delhi has witnessed a growing monkey menace, while the forest department under the Delhi government and the municipal corporation’s veterinary department continue fighting regarding jurisdiction over the matter.
“Several communications from the ministry of environment forest and climate change (animal welfare division) clearly states that monkeys are not stray animals and catching, trapping or controlling the population of monkeys can only be done by the forest department. If we catch monkeys, we will be breaking the law,” a senior veterinary department official said.
A senior official from the forest department said the Delhi high court order of 2019 makes it clear the responsibility to capture monkeys lies with the corporations, not the forest department. “We have been asked to take care of the animals being shifted to Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary and each month, over ₹8 lakh is spent on their food. The high court made it clear corporations will be the ones transporting the monkeys there,” he said.
During May-June earlier this year, several cut-outs of langoors were placed in the Covid centre to scare away the rhesus monkeys. This temporary solution also exposed the administrative failure in tackling Delhi’s simian menace.
Ved Pal argued that the money spent on feeding monkeys could have been used to create a zone with natural fruit trees. “The area would be able to naturally sustain the monkey population and the annual expenditure on feeding may be saved,” he added