SDMC shifting responsibility to trap and translocate monkeys : Delhi High Court

The AAP government told the Delhi High Court Tuesday that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation was shifting the responsibility of trapping and translocating monkeys from the city.

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.

High Court asks govt: Should we ask monkeys not to procreate

Should we ask monkeys not to procreate or bite people till the government comes out with a method to sterilise them, the Delhi High Court asked today.

It also pulled up the Centre for importing oral immune-contraception vaccines for testing on the simians without getting approvals for carrying out the sterilisation trials.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar noted that the vaccine imported from the United States was primarily used to sterilise horses and have not been used on monkeys anywhere in the world.

“Why did you import the vaccine if the permission for trials has not been received,” the court asked the government.

“Till the time you (Centre) get the permissions, shall we ask the monkeys not to procreate and tell them not to bite people,” it asked.

The bench said the issue of controlling the monkey population was pending since 2001 and the Centre was yet to develop a mechanism to reduce their numbers. Agriculture activities in northern India has been stopped and even central Delhi has become increasingly unlivable.

It was hearing a PIL filed in 2001 by advocate Meera Bhatia seeking directions to the authorities to take steps to deal with the menace of monkeys and dogs in the city.

The bench noted that even the Delhi government and a committee set up on court orders to develop an action plan to control the simian population, have not taken any steps.

It directed the committee to hold a meeting in a day and come out with a time line within which it would take steps to sterilise the monkeys.

The court said a member each from NGO Wildlife SOS and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) would be part of this panel, which will also draw up a project estimate for sterilisation of the monkeys and will forward it to the central government.

The WII was directed to ensure that it applied for all requisite permissions within three days and the central agencies were asked to process these applications within four weeks.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on May 31.

During the arguments, Wildlife SOS told the court it had successfully carried out surgical sterilisation by laproscopy of 500 monkeys in Agra and said it could replicate the results in the national capital too if it received the cooperation of the authorities.

The Delhi government, on the other hand, said that surgical sterilisation was ruled out as it was found to be invasive.

Wildlife SOS also told the court that monkey population rapidly increases 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.