Vote for those keeping monkeys at bay

Members of a residents’ forum in Kalpetta municipality seek an assurance in this regard

With municipal elections round the corner, protest by residents here against the monkey menace has finally yielded some positive response.

Members of the Haritagiri Residents Association in the 10th division of the Kalpetta municipality took a decision to the effect that they would vote only for the party that comes up with a permanent solution to the problems posed by monkeys in the municipality.

The monkeys have been creating problems for the people living in all divisions of the civic body.

Though the residents had led a series of agitations against the alleged laxity of the authorities in tackling the stray monkey menace, it had not led to any desired effect, Babu Varghese, president of the association, told The Hindu.

The municipal authorities had drafted a ₹36.5-lakh project to sterilise stray monkeys in 2014, but it was yet to take off, Mr. Varghese said.

The sub-court here had in 2013 directed the authorities concerned to relocate the simian population from the municipal area in three months. When a Forest Department project a few years ago to translocate the monkeys to remote forests failed to materialise, the department also mooted a project in 2015 to sterilise the primates in the municipal area. This project was to utilise the technical assistance of veterinary experts from the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) and the Kalpetta municipality. But the project too did not take off, he said.

The municipality had earmarked ₹5 lakh and the department had set up a laboratory at ₹7 lakh for the purpose at Lakkidi, T.V. Kuriakose, treasurer of the association, said. Undue delay in the allocation of funds for the purpose and non-availability of workers to trap monkeys after the outbreak of the Kyasanur Forest Disease in the district had adversely affected the project, he said.

As a last resort, the association had put up banners right next to the posters of political parties urging the candidates to address the monkey menace, he said. The votes from the residential area is important for all political fronts as they constitute nearly a quarter of the total votes of the division.

Now we received a positive response from the United Democratic Front candidate who had agreed to highlight our demands in his election manifesto. We expect a similar approach from other political fronts in the coming days, Mr. Kuriakose said.

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