New Delhi: Monkey menace in the country has reached "epic" proportions and even derailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans of making his parliamentary constituency Varanasi wi-fi enabled as they damaged optical fibre cables, a green body today said.
An investigation by 'Down to Earth', a publication of Delhi-based green advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said monkeys have been causing extensive damage to agriculture in India which was already facing low productivity due to extreme weather events.
"Monkey menace is no longer an odd case of mischief carried out by a monkey. It has reached epic proportions and is being calculated statistically.
"While monkeys have derailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans of making Varanasi city wi-fi enabled by regularly chewing optical fibre cables, they have been causing extensive damage to agriculture in India, already facing low productivity due to extreme weather events such as unseasonal rainfall," the investigative report said.
According to National Institute of Disaster Management, Himachal Pradesh loses farm produce worth Rs 500 crore annually due to wild animals, including monkeys, while O P Bhuraita, convenor of Shimla-based farmers' rights group'Kheti Bachao Andolan' said the state lost crops worth Rs 2,200 crore due to monkeys between 2007 and 2012, the CSE said in a statement quoting the report.
It also said that according to state wildlife department, between 1990 and 2004, population of monkeys in Himachal Pradesh increased from 61,000 to 3.17 lakh which was a five-fold increase.
From Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Karnataka in the south, several states in the country were struggling to contain assaults by monkeys.
Jammu and Kashmir agriculture minister G H Mir, in a statement in 2013, had said 250 villages in Jammu lose farm produce worth Rs 33 crore every year because of attacks by wild monkeys.
The story of Uttarakhand was similar with village residents opting to sell their farmlands than grow crops. In 2010, farmers in two of Bihar's worst-affected constituencies - Chainpur and Saharsha - formed an association 'Bandar Mukti Abhiyan Samiti' to pressurise politicians to act, the statement said.
"Monkeys have a higher life expectancy and are procreating more. In their native forest homes, their numbers are kept in check by a limited supply of natural forest foods and water.
"Rates of death are high among wild primates with up to 80 per cent dying before adulthood, offsetting birthrates.
Assured food and safety (oustide the jungle) has left them with more time for procreation and better chances of survival," CSE said quoting the investigative report.