Save Agriculture Action Committee to hold Vidhan Sabha protest on August 18
Shimla: Trapped between an un-responsive government and marauding simian armies, the Save Agriculture group has decided to hold a protest rally outside the Vidhan Sabha during the monsoon session so as to agitate about the unfulfilled election manifesto commitment towards the farming community.
Spearheading the Save Agriculture campaign, Kuldeep Tanwar, president Himachal Kishan Sabha (HKS) holds that the farming community was losing about Rs 2,000 crores annually because of outgrown animal populations in the state that not only had rendered much land fallow but also use up much manpower for watch and ward purposes and despite that standing crops suffer extensive damages.
â€œA 2004 cenus had put the monkey and baboon population in Himachal at about 3.7 lakhs and current estimates project it to have increased to 5 lakhs but a government sterilization program for containing the simian population since 2006-07 has only been able to sterilize 19,481 monkeys,â€ said Tanwar. At this rate the population would take half a century before some result could become visible, he added.
Citing the world over practice of containing vermin animal populations by scientific culling, he said that the government lacked political will to save farming livelihoods as it had stopped scientific culling after having started in some pachayats of Sirmaur, a couple of years ago.
The result of that exercise in Naura panchayat of Sirmaur is that the farmers were able to grow a maize crop after many years, said Tanwar.
Following a massive protest by farmers before the Vidhan Sabha in 2007, both congress and BJP had made containing vermin animal populations an anchor of their election manifestoâ€™s in 2008 but two years down the line, the problem has only magnified, he said.
The government has failed to protect the farmer from growing animal populations, he said.
Save agriculture action committee would be holding another protest rally outside the Vidhan Sabha on 18 August during the ensuing monsoon session, in which farmers from all over the state including Chamba and Kinnaur would participate, he announced.
Counting the farm economy larger than the apple economy, Tanwar, said the of the 10 lakh farming families at least 5 lakh persons were engaged in guarding crops for about 200 days in a year, which alone worked out to about Rs 1000 crores in man days lost. Of the meager cultivable land in the state, crops lost because of land not cultivated because of animal menace was about Rs 500 crore and damages to standing crops was estimated at another Rs 500 crores.
Holding the government responsible for pursuing anti-farmer policies, the organization has demanded to hold a all party meet about reaching an consensus for taking to scientific culling, passing of a unanimous Vidhan Sabha resolution to the effect and asking all state MPs to build pressure upon Delhi for opening up export of monkeys for research purposes.
Farmers in two villages to shoot down monkeys
With the government refusing to undertake scientific culling, Tanwar disclosed that two villages in Mashobra block of Shimla have obtained permits to shoot marauding monkeys.
From Sunday six villagers from each of the two villages would start scientific culling of the simians to save their crops and farm lands, he said.
Tanwar, who has quit his Indian Forest Services (IFS) job said that the Wild Life Act does permit the chief wild life warden to grant permission for killing six animals, namely Wild Boar, Porcupine, Sambhar, Cheetal, Hare, Jackal, Monkey, Black Bear and Parrot, when they start damaging standing food crops.
He held that the government had cowed down before animal rights activists by withdrawing from scientific culling and had failed to protect the farmers from outgrown populations of wild boars, sambhars, monkeys and others.