Shimla: On the call given by Kheti Bachao Sangarsh Samiti, thousands of farmers marched from the Panchayat Bhavan to the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha today, demanding prompt action from the government to get rid of the menace of monkeys, wild animals and stray cattle.
State president of Himachal Kisan Sabha Dr Kuldeep Singh Tanwar narrated in length the demands of the farmers and the alternative that can be developed for meeting the present challenge. Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha stated, “AIKS will take up the issue of the lifting of ban on export of monkeys at the central level as well”. Other speakers to express their views included Dr Onkar Shad, Tikender Singh, Kushal Bhardwaj, Ramesh Verma from the Himachal Kisan Sabha, Ravinder Chauhan from the Fruit Growers Association and Satyawan Pundir, Jia Nand Sharma and others from the Himachal Gyan Vigyan Samiti (HGVS).
KBSS speakers said the issue of monkeys, stray cattle and wild animals has wide ramifications for the agrarian sector of the state. It affects 2,301 panchayats out of a total of 3,243, which is as high as 70.9% of the total panchayats. “The affect is so wide that of the total 10 lakh peasant land holdings in the state more than 5 lakh families are directly involved for more than 200 days per year in safeguarding the crop and fields from this menace. In revenue terms if this is matched to the total loss in man days it comes to Rs 100 crores annually. Incidentally, because of the problem, nearly 50,000 hectares land in the state is kept barren as the farmers are unable to work on it. Now the attack on the human population has also become widespread and is putting the lives of the people under threat,” it was stated.
KBSS demanded that the Union government lifts ban on export of monkeys that continues since 1978, wild animals and monkeys be brought under Section 62 of the 1972 Wild Life and Animal Protection Act and be declared as vermin and the act of guarding crops be covered under NREGA. At the state level, it demanded scientific culling of monkeys, crop insurance cover for all crops, compensation for the loss that accrued from the menace of wild animals, monkeys and stray cattle and increase in compensation amount for crop damage and damage to life and property of human beings.