(Times of India) Despite being a major poll issue in the state for the last many decades, the monkey menace continues to haunt residents of Himachal Pradesh, with political parties failing to come up with an effective solution, after they come to power.
Already about two lakh hectares land have turned barren as farmers have stopped cultivation due to frequent crop destruction, causing production loss of Rs 500-600 crore. With winter session of the assembly beginning Monday, the Kheti Bachao Sangarsh Samiti has demanded legislation to allow export of wild animals for bio-medical research.
In a letter to chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Samiti convener Dr Kuldeep Singh Tanwar has suggested that export of wild animals, especially monkeys, for bio-medical research can be a good option to reduce their number, which has reached alarming proportions.
The central government had banned the export of wild animals in 1978, he said. Raising doubts over the government plan to sterilise two lakh monkeys by June 30 next at a cost of Rs 50 crore, Tanwar said sterilization programme would yield results only after 20-25 years. "In the last five years, only 35,000 monkeys have been sterilized. How can they cover two lakh monkeys by June 30 and who will guarantee that monkeys would not destroy crops after sterilisation," he asked.
Tanwar said that about five lakh farmers, out of 10 lakh, were unable to get 100 days of work in a year as they remain busy guarding their crops which is further causing a loss of around Rs 800 crore, when lost workdays are compared with wages paid under MNREGA.
CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, chairing the 5th wild life board meeting on Friday evening, said the state government had taken every possible step to check the growing population of animals and had set up four monkey sterilization centres in different parts of the state, while 21 more are proposed to be set up soon.