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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 11:30 GMT
Row over Delhi's errant monkeys
By Faisal Mohammad Ali
BBC News, Bhopal

Delhi street monkey
Monkeys have become a major nuisance in Delhi
A plan to shift a batch of 100 captured monkeys from the Indian capital Delhi has come unstuck.

The authorities in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have refused to accept the animals, saying it would create problems for them.

"We received the last batch in June last year. We got a lot of criticism for this in the state at that time too," the state's chief forest conservator, PC Shukla, told the BBC.

"Now, Delhi wants to send another lot but we are not interested. This is their problem they should be able to tackle it."

Delhi suffers from a serious monkey menace, with scores of animals seen across the city, particularly near top government offices.

'Security threat'

The monkeys who have moved into residential areas and official enclaves due to Delhi's shrinking forests, are said to have become a 'security threat'.

Last year, the ministry of defence found some of its top secret documents scattered all over the place one morning.

It was blamed on the many rhesus monkeys which flock around the colonial-era building.

The prime minister's office, which is situated in the same block, is also within reach.

A cabinet minister couldn't enter his official bungalow for months because the monkeys wouldn't let any body enter the house.

The presidential palace too has been targeted and staff their have been forced to employ a dark-faced langur monkey to scare away the rhesus monkeys.

No where to go

Besieged by the monkeys, who have been making life difficult in India's capital, the Delhi administration began a drive to catch these last year.

Some 500 of them have been captured and are kept on the outskirts of Delhi.

But officials say this is not a long-term solution.

"How long can we keep them caged? That, too, in the extreme weather of Delhi.

"We have to release them somewhere within the country. We can't export them as there is a ban on this," says Delhi's chief forest conservator AK Sinha.

It sent a batch of around 200 to the adjoining state of Uttar Pradesh which freed them in the forest near Pilhibit.

Then some 250 were released in the forests of Madhya Pradesh under an agreement between the two state governments.

Revered

Madhya Pradesh had released these monkeys in the forest of Palpur Kuno situated near Gwalior.

This forest is being prepared as a habitat for Asiatic lions which the state wants to borrow from Gujarat.

The Gir forest of Gujarat is the only area in India where the highly endangered Asiatic lions are found.

Officials in Madhya Pradesh's fear that the monkeys may spread disease in the specially developed forest.

Officials in the state forest department also say that these animals have almost become domesticated in the environs of Delhi and tend to stick to human settlements.

Hindus revere monkeys which they believe are descendents of the monkey God Hanuman, and therefore give them food and water whenever they can.

But money too has played a part in Madhya Pradesh's refusal.

It says the Delhi government had agreed to pay costs of 5.1 million rupees ($117,308) but only a part of it has been received.

Madhya Pradesh had initially demanded a total of more than 10 million rupees ($230,000) for taking the monkeys on.


SEE ALSO:
Nuisance monkeys could be exported
02 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Monkey-catcher with a mission
14 Aug 03 |  South Asia
Monkeys invade Delhi government
09 Jan 01 |  South Asia
Monkey mystery baffles Delhi
17 May 01 |  South Asia


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