Monkeys a big problem for the farming community

PALAMPUR, – For ages, the country’s Hindu majority has worshiped monkeys as living incarnations of “Hanuman”, the Monkey-God. But monkeys have earned a bad name for their increasing attacks on human beings, among other nuisance like damaging crop etc particularly in Himachal Pradesh.
There are more than five lakh monkeys in this hill state and out of it over 80% live in cities, towns and villages far outside the forested areas. The gravity of the situation could be judged from the fact that 2320 out of total 3200 panchyats in the state have been been badly affected by the problem.
According to survey conducted by the Gian Vigyan Samit revealed that every year crops worth rupees 400 crores are being destroyed by the monkeys and other animals in the state.    Mr. Onkar Shaad, convener of the samiti said that   farmers had been agitating for the past more than two years and they had submitted memorandum right up the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but no effective steps had been initiated to solve the problem.
The villagers, however, are increasingly feeling that this problem has become more acute because of the fact that monkeys   have been provided “over protection” under the law like the prevention of cruelty to Animals and the Wild Life Protection Act. Another factor responsible for the increase in the number of monkeys is ban on its export imposed by government of India.
Gian Vigyan Samiti, The Himachal Pradesh Kishan Sabha, Save Palampur and Palampur Welfare and Environment Protection Forum, have urged the government to lift the ban on the export of monkeys and get rid thousands of farmers from monkey menace in the state.  These social organizations have urged the government to launch a massive campaign in the state to check the monkey’s menace and save crop.          
Information gathered by this correspondent also revealed that in past five years over one thousand people were bitten or clawed by aggressive monkeys in Himachal Pradesh, which resulted in the death of one dozen innocent persons. Monkeys are also accused of snatching handbags from passers-by, stealing food from houses, medicines from hospitals and even files from government offices. Women and school going children have become soft targets for mischievous monkeys in many parts of state.  Rampaging monkeys have also caused automobile crashes in many parts of the state recently resulting fatal accidents.

It is an open fact that Himachal Pradesh government has completely failed to check the monkey menace in the state.  Thousand of acres of land in the state have gone barren because of the fact that farmers have stopped cultivation in view of damages being caused to the crop by the monkeys.  There is none in the government to listen the problems of thousand of farmers house wives, and school going children who have been facing monkeys menace in their daily life. Despite repeated complaints to SDMs and wild life officers none is not bothered to look into the matter.
Though Chief Minister Mr. Vir Bhadara Singh has time and again had announced that monkeys would be sterilized and rehabilitation centers would be set up in the state. But his entire announcement remained confined to official files and nothing worthwhile was done in this field so far. In fact the state government had failed to formulate any proper plan for the sterilization of monkeys and where to send the sterilized monkeys for rehabilitation.  Whatever the government has done that is quite little and this way it would take years to eliminate the monkeys from the populated areas.
It is quite interesting that   monkey menace has also become a major election issue in the state assembly elections being held next month, as most of the farming community who are the worst victims of rampaging monkeys and had forced to leave their land barren, have decided to cast their vote only to the party which would help them to get rid of this problem.
It may be recalled that   degradation of forest areas in the state is the main reason for monkeys getting closer to human settlements. In Himachal Pradesh the worst affected areas are Shimla town and its suburbs. Besides, in Palampur, Baijnath, Paprola and lower areas of Palampur the residents have fed up with increasing monkey menace. In past the administration trapped and relocated more than 2000 monkeys to the forests, but nearly all returned to the cities and same place for lack of water, vegetation and fruits in jungles.
It is an established fact that human beings have encroached on their homelands, robbed their food, water. Thus forests are under threat and squeezing day by day. That is why not only monkeys but other wild animals have also come closer to human settlements seeking food. The state government should also think over it while giving permission to set up hydel power projects, cement plants and other industry without affecting the homelands of these wild animals, which are the natural habitats of these animals

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