NEW DELHI: Environment Ministry has declared Rhesus Macaque monkeys in Himachal Pradesh to be "vermin" for a period of one year, allowing their culling to control their population during this time.
The notification issued last month said that the state has reported damage to life and property including large scale destruction of agriculture by this species in areas outside forest. Vermin means wild animals which are believed to be harmful to crops, farm animals, game or which carry diseases.
It said the government has "considered it necessary" to mitigate the damage to human life, crops and properties for ensuring conservation of wildlife in forest. The decision has not gone down well with Union Minister Maneka Gandhi who today said there was "lust" for killing in the Environment Ministry but Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar defended it, saying the step was taken as per law on request of the Himachal Government.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by section 62 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972), the Central Government, hereby declares Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta)... to be vermin for inclusion in Schedule V of the said Act, for a period of one year from the date of publication of this notification," the Ministry's notification said.
The districts in Himachal Pradesh where the monkeys will be included in Schedule V are Chamba, Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, Shimla, Sirmour, Kullu, Hamirpur, Sonlan and Mandi. Maneka, who holds the Women and Child Development portfolio and is an animal rights activist, said, the Centre has allowed killing of 'nilgai' in Bihar, elephants in West Bengal, monkeys in Himachal Pradesh, peacocks in Goa and wild boars in Chandrapur.