HP to check monkey menace in famous tourist destinations

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Shimla, Mar 4 (UNI) The Himachal Pradesh Government has formulated an ambitious plan to check monkey menace at famous hill stations of the hill state.

State Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, after a meeting with Union Minister of State for Forest and Environment S Reghupathy in New Delhi, said his Government had decided to set up two primate protection parks at Shimla and Nadaun to keep 2,500 monkeys annually at each park at an estimated cost of Rs 1.50 crore.

At present, 3.17 lakh monkeys and 53,000 langoors were residing in Himachal, he said, adding that an annual expenditure of about Rs.1.25 crore would be made to provide food and shelter to these monkeys.

He said massive sterilisation campaign would be conducted with latest machinery and equipment at these camps and only the operated monkeys would be shifted to the park.

A target to cover 5,000 monkeys under sterilisation programme has been fixed in the State during this year.

The Government would set up monkey sterlisation centres at Gopalpur and Hamirpur, Mr Dhumal said.

At present one monkey sterilisation centre is working in Tutikandi in Shimla where 2,000 monkeys are being covered annually under the programme.

Mr Dhumal said the State Government had decided to plant 25 per cent wild fruit trees under the ongoing plantation programmes in the forest areas, to provide natural food to the monkeys. This would check their migration to the urban areas permanently and also provide cover to the standing crops.

The Government had deposited Rs 158.44 crore under CAMPA scheme under Forest Conservation Act and urged the Union Minister to release the State share so as to expedite afforestation and other related programmes in the State, he added.

Stating that one eco-battalion had been set up in the State to undertake extensive afforestation programmes in Satluj basin the Chief Minister requested the Centre to sanction additional Eco-Battalions in order to provide more employment avenues to ex-servicemen in the State. He also requested the Centre to bear the administrative expenditure cost of these battalions.

The Chief Minister informed that work on Rs 38.66 crore Bio-technology Park, being set up at Audwal in Nalagarh area, would be started during next financial year adding that the Centre had given permission for setting up of this park on 12.52 hectare forest land.

He said the Government would shortly organise a conference of investors in Nalagarhto to attract private investment in the park and seek private public partnership for its speedy execution.

Mr Regupathy appreciated the resolve of the state Government in effective implementation of the forestry schemes and its excellent track record of in afforestation programme.

He said the Centre would provide all possible help to the State Government in implementing various developmental schemes.

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