NEW DELHI: Lutyens’ Delhi, the hub of the capital’s power elite, has now got another perk. Though most green areas in the city are plagued by the monkey menace, a team of 40 handlers has been recently deployed to deal with the problem only for the Lutyens’ zone.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), through a private agency, has hired these monkey-handlers, which include catchers and repellers, to guard VVIP places, such as the Prime Minister’s residence, Rashtrapati Bhawan, North and South Blocks, Nirman Bhawan, etc. Three monkey-handlers have been deployed at the PM’s house and four at the residence of the Chief Justice of India.
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Afraid that the perennial monkey menace in Lutyens’ Delhi might lead to visiting foreign dignitaries be bitten, two handlers have been deployed at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) office on a monthly pay of Rs 13,000 to work in 12-hour shifts.
Rajendra starts his day at 7am at the MEA office in Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, where he imitates the grunts of a langur to scare away monkeys that throng the building. He is a “monkey repeller”. “I used to work at the ministry as a peon, now I do this. I am quite proud of it,” says the 30-year-old. “The monkeys get into offices and break things, uproot plants and break flower pots,” he told The Sunday Standard.
NDMC’s monkey-catching squads have captured around 150 simians in the past two months. The captured animals are released in the Asola Bird Sanctuary where they get food and shelter.
In September, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had floated a tender for “deployment of handlers at North Block to eradicate the monkey menace”. The MHA and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) have decided to split the cost 2:1. They will, however, not foot the bill or be responsible in case the handlers are injured.