Harassed by troops of monkeys that frequently attack passers-by and destroy crops, residents of Himachal Pradesh have been promised relief fromthe simian menace by both the BJP and the Congress if voted to power in the upcoming November 9 elections. As many as 2,000 villages across the hill state are affected by simians.
BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal blamed the Virbhadra Singh government for not running the sterilisation drive in an effective manner to tackle the growing population of monkeys. “They have not run this programme in an effective manner and it seems that the number of monkeys has increased rather than going down,” he said. “We will motivate farmers to install net fencing around their fields. We will also take other necessary steps as this problem is not limited to villages and has spread to cities as well,” the senior leader said.
State BJP president Satpal Satti, who is seeking re-election from Una, alleged the Congress government had failed to tackle the problem. Satti said crore of rupees were spent to catch the monkeys for sterilisation but their number continued to increase.
However, Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri said, “We have run sterilisation campaigns and taken other steps as well. We will take more steps needed to tackle the problem.” According to a census carried out in 2015, there were over 2,400 monkeys within the Shimla Municipal Corporation limits and eight forest beats were identified as “endemic areas”.