Shimla: Jostling for space, man – monkey conflict in Himachal Pradesh is getting more intense by the day as a state culling directive was stalled by the courts, a primate park scheme ended in utter failure and a monkey sterilization program has come about to haunt farmers, school children and others.
Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal credited with having launched the simian sterilization program launched in 2006-07 has had enough of the center operating at Sastar village in Hamirpur district.
In a letter to chief minister Virbhadra Singh and forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmour, Dhumal has apprised the duo about what a nuisance the sterilization has become for Sastar villagers.
“The sterilization centre should be closed at the earliest as it has become the major reason for increase in monkey count in the area,” says Dhumal.
Dhumal, who is also the opposition leader, in the letter alleges that forest department employees were releasing the monkeys brought from other areas for sterilizations around the center itself that was responsible for rapid increase in their numbers in nearby villages.
“Monkeys are attacking people, children, especially the younger ones and the condition of farmers has worsened as the crops were being destroyed year after years,” says the leader.
He pointed out that the issue was raised during the monsoon session but no concrete policy had been brought forth to control the states exploding simian population.
JP Nadda as Himachal forest minister had launched a primate park scheme in 2008, where plans were drawn to attract monkeys away for human habitation areas by providing food and planting fruit trees in jungles. Only a year later the experiment tried out in Tara Devi jungles near Shimla was more or less abandoned as it failed miserably.
A court in January 2011 had struck down a government’s decision for issuing permits to farmers for shooting marauding monkey gangs destroying crops.
Farmers across the state have been facing the brunt of monkey menace and have regularly agitated over the issue but no solution is in sight.
Sterilization was mooted as the shortest route to containing the monkey population but with the opposition leader seeking shutting down of a sterilization center, the program too has boomeranged.