The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) of Delhi government said the civic agency cannot abdicate its responsibility on the pretext of a letter which is not valid in respect of trapping the monkeys from habitation areas.
The CWW’s submission came in an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao which listed the matter for further hearing on March 6.
“The contention of SDMC about the local body being not empowered to catch monkeys is not valid,” said the affidavit, filed through Delhi government additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal.
“By making such application, it is a move by the municipal corporation to shift the responsibility of trapping and translocation of monkeys from the inhabited areas and the civic agency cannot abdicate its responsibility on the pretext of a letter which is not valid in respect of trapping monkeys from habitation areas of Delhi,” it said.
It also stated that the monkeys in the inhabited areas in Delhi are commensal in nature and not those found in the wild and these commensal monkeys have evolved by adapting themselves to live close to human habitations and sustain on food provided by the residents of the nearby areas.
The court was informed that in pursuance to earlier direction, a meeting of all the concerned authorities was held under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary (Urban Development) on January 23.
The Delhi government said officials of all the civic agencies in the national capital had participated in the meeting and action points, which are to be followed, were decided to implement the judgement of the high court in tackling monkey menace here.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Meera Bhatia for directions to the authorities to take steps to deal with the menace of monkeys in the city.
The court had earlier noted that the problem of increasing monkey population was “aggravating with each passing day” and that the increase in simian numbers would not wait for testing of the oral vaccine for sterilising them.
NGO Wildlife SOS had earlier told the court that monkey population is rapidly increasing in urban areas due to the easy access to food, especially in garbage, as compared to forest areas where they have to forage for food.
The SDMC had earlier told the court that it “lacked the expertise” and was ill-equipped to catch monkeys.
Advocate Gaurang Kanth, appearing for the SDMC, had made the submission while seeking modification of the court’s 2007 direction to it to catch monkeys and relocate them in the Ridge area of the city.
The Delhi government, in the affidavit, added that that it had floated two tenders for catching and sterilising monkeys, but it found no takers.
It said it has been decided in the January meeting that in case the bid fails for the third time, the animal husbandry department may be assigned the job of earmarking at least one animal hospital within each MCDs and New Delhi Municipal Council to start the work of laparoscopic sterilisation of monkeys at least in four such identified hospitals.
The strength of doctors and other supporting staff may be enriched by the fund provided by Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), placed at the disposal of CWW, it said, adding that the animal husbandry department may strengthen infrastructure facilities for smooth process of sterilisation of simians.
The affidavit stated that entire cost of sterilisation and post sterilisation care would be met by the funds give by MoEF and there would not be any burden of Delhi government or civic agencies.
“The job of catching the monkeys, transporting them to animal hospital ear marked for sterilisation and then releasing them back to the same location would be done by the concerned civic agency under the supervision of enforcement committee headed by CWW,” it said.
It said that till the sterilisation process begins, the job of catching monkeys and releasing them in Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary will be continued by the civic agencies as per the high court’s order.
The high court had earlier asked the Delhi government to come out with an alternative plan to reduce the increasing monkey population in the national capital if it was not finding any bidders for its tenders to sterilise the simians.