Shimla: A large number of farmers in Himachal Pradesh have welcomed the decision of culling of wild animals and have also strongly condemned the stand of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi who has shown more concern for animals than marginalised farmers in the country. The farmers have demanded a clear stand from the Centre and State governments either to support the farmers who are committing suicides or go with the superficial animal lovers living in urban areas and have nothing to do with the massive agrarian crises in the countryside, said Satyawan Pundir, joint secretary of Himachal Kisan Sabha.
The Women and Child Welfare Minister and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi should not ignore the rights of women and children in favour of animals and monkeys. The target group (women and children) of her ministry is the most affected section from the menace of wild animals in our society, said Kuldip Tanwar, a former Indian Forest Service officer and now a farmers’ leader. The children have stopped going to schools and the women are not getting any time to look after themselves as they have to be watch their fields from wild animals all the times. The Himachal government has failed to depute the sharp shooters to cull the Rhesus Macaque monkeys that have been declared vermin in the hill State and has always left it on farmers to arrange for their culling, he said.
The State government here has always failed to check the monkey menace since it went for the transitory solutions like sterilisation and pushing them back to jungles instead of scientific culling or exporting them abroad for the bio-medical researches, said the State Kisan Sabha, that is fighting the battle from past more than a decade for getting them declared vermin in Himachal. The Union Government has declared monkeys as vermin in Shimla Municipal Corporation area in March this year and 38 other Tehsils on May 7, 2016. The animal right activists have taken a stay immediately against this notification of Union Environment and Forest Ministry in the State High Court.
The small hill State is losing around Rs 2000 crore annually in its GDP due to the land left barren by the farmers and destruction of crops by wild animals especially the monkeys, blue bulls and wild boars.
The farmers in Himachal have urged the State government to approach the Apex Court to vacate the stay against the Centre’s notification and have also demanded from the State government to help farmers by engaging professionals to cull the wild animals that have exceeded the “carrying capacity” of the area.
The efforts of State Forest Ministry to fix the barbed wires with electric current outside the fields and sterilisation have all gone haywire and have been declared impractical by the farmers here. Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmauri has come out with a Rs 25 crore proposal for pushing back the monkeys into jungles again.
KY Singh is a political observer and a senior journalist with an interest in a diverse set of issues related to Himachal Pradesh and other mountain states. He lives in Shimla.