NEW DELHI: All government buildings in the Lutyens’ area, which used to call in handlers with langurs to scare away monkeys, have stopped the practice after a ban on it in 2012 due to the efforts of animal rights activists and the present Union Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi. Now, there is a fine of `3 lakh for hiring an animal and using it for commercial purposes.
“We do not have many options other than these two methods (catching and scaring monkeys) to make lives safer in these places. This is very much a part of our smart-city planning,” NDMC’s Chief Medical Officer (Project) Dr Shakuntala Srivastav said.
Also Read: Lutyens' Delhi Gets its Own Monkey Business
The council had tried using rubber bullets to scare off the monkeys, but it was banned by the Animal Welfare Board. The council believes that the permanent solution to this long-standing issue is relocating the monkeys.
“Repelling them works for some time but they return after they understand that the person is not coming over there regularly. The Lutyens’ zone used to be a forest area before it was urbanised, so they return to their homes. But shifting the monkeys to a different place works, as they are provided with food at the sanctuary,” said Pramod Kumar, the Medical Superintendent at the NDMC veterinary hospital in Moti Bagh.
The Ministry of Defence office lawn in the South Block, too, has earned the reputation of being a monkey yard. “Every morning, there are around 600 monkeys crossing the huge lawns. You find them at lunch hours as well. One cannot cross this road if they are present. When we go inside the building after our duty is over to change guard, we have to carry a stick or a brick because they are waiting to attack us,” a CISF official said.
Sadiq and his monkey performed near the India Gate area for 12 years before madari shows were banned in 2012. At present, he and three others are employed as monkey handlers in the North Block. Among the 40 hired, there are 20 men who were former madaris. A handler at the North Block said, “The monkeys get into the offices despite the traps set around the building. They get into toilets and scare people.”
While handlers have been deployed in place of langurs to safeguard animal rights, their own human rights have been neglected by the government. The tender notice by the government clearly mentions that the ministry is not responsible for any kind of physical injury caused to the handler while performing the work.
Pramod Kumar said the council plans to hire more people to catch monkeys. Apart from the government buildings on the Raisina Hill, monkeys are a huge problem on Dalhousie Road, Hanuman Road, Sunahri Road, Safdarjung Lane, Rajaji Marg, Sardar Patel Marg, Dharam Marg and Rajdoot Marg in the Lutyens’ zone.
40 Monkey-handlers Hired
3 Handlers deployed at PM’s house
4 At Chief Justice of India’s residence
Agency providing handlers: Narayan Nath
Training period for the handlers: One month
Affected areas: Dalhousie Road, South Block, North Block, Hanuman Road, Sunahri Road, Safdarjung Lane, Rajaji Marg, Malcha Marg, Sardar Patel Marg, Dharam Marg and Rajdoot Marg