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Himachal Pradesh government on Saturday came out with in interesting decision to enhance incentives for killing monkeys, or catching them alive for sterilisation by the state’s wildlife department. Monkeys have been declared as vermin in 37 tehsils, named as hot spots in the state, as having the highest concentration of monkeys and wrecking massive damage to the crops. A fresh proposal is also pending with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for expanding the notification to declare monkey vermin in other 53 tehsils, beside Shimla town.
State’s forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri announced on Saturday that the incentive for killing monkeys in those areas, where they were declared as vermin, has been raised from Rs 300 to Rs 500 per simian.
“The amount for catching monkeys (by any individual) for sterilization of monkey has also been increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 700,” he added. To further incentivise the drive, Bharmouri declared that the amount will be Rs 1,000 per monkey, if any individual manages to catch 80 per cent of monkeys in one particular herd in a particular area. It’s because, as studies have revealed, monkeys stay in the herds and are very possessive about the group to which they belong.
Bharmouri also announced to provide a special grant of Rs 1,000 to Village Forest Development or Joint Forest Management Committees of the panchayats in those tehsils, where monkeys have been declared as vermin. This funding will be given to organising workshops on monkey menace.
Farmers’ body has reacted sharply to the move terming its as “useless” and ridiculous move. “The government has already spent Rs 20 cr on sterlisation without any tangible results. Now they have chosen this gimmick to gain time and waste public money. This is no solution, rather a new tactic to hoodwink the farmers,” said Kuldeep Tanwar, President Himachal Kisan Sabha, a farmers’ body fighting on monkey issue and other farmers’ rights.
Tanwar said now when the monkeys have been declared vermin, only culling was a solution, but Bharmauri has started a new exercise or strated talks to export/transport monkeys to North East, which will never happen.
“Why didn’t the government or Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Himachal Pradesh, to appraise him losses which farmers were suffering due to monkeys. Let the government lift ban on export of monkeys for biological use in US or other countries?” he asked.
The Kisan sabha leader said the body proposes its own drive to kill monkeys in the areas where these have been declared vermin by forming teams.