| Time up: A langur, employed by the foreign ministry to drive away monkeys, does his job. (AFP file picture)
New Delhi, Dec. 25: The capital has finally hit on an idea to rid it of monkeys ' pack them off and away.
The Union environment and forests ministry has decided to send them off to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh at a cost of about Rs 40 lakh.
The relocating having met with some success in Uttar Pradesh, the ministry has decided to give Rs 25 lakh as grant to Madhya Pradesh to take in more of the simians.
Delhi forests and wildlife minister Raj Kumar Chauhan told the Vidhan Sabha about the plan earlier this week.
The man-animal conflict had played havoc in North and South Block, the Delhi police headquarters, the Vidhan Sabha and many of the capital's residential neigbourhoods and government complexes. Madaris, government drives and even fellow simians ' langurs ' failed to control the monkeys.
The Centre has ordered proper health check-up of the monkeys before their rehabilitation. For the purpose, the government has released Rs 1.52 lakh to buy X-ray machines so that diseases like tuberculosis could be detected.
About Rs 15.32 lakh have already been spent on building temporary shelters for the simians at Bakhtawarpur in north Delhi and Rajokri, near Gurgaon.
Government drives to catch and relocate them in the Asola wildlife sanctuary on the Haryana border came unstuck after the monkeys were found to walk back to their old habitat.
They were caught by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the New Delhi Municipal Council and handed to the Delhi forests and wildlife department, which sent them to the temporary shelters. They were later rehabilitated in forest areas.
The government had even hired madaris and langurs to chase away the monkeys terrorising offices in North and South Block. But the initiative met with limited success.
Early this year, the langur on duty at the Delhi Vidhan Sabha met a gory end after its keeper left it tied and unguarded within the premises one night. Monkeys and dogs set upon the simian in revenge.
Another major reason for packing off the monkeys to other states is Delhi's forest cover, which is sparse at 7.51 per cent.
As a result, many of its public recreational places like Buddha Jayanti Park and Mahavir Park, both in central Delhi, have turned into a simian paradise, making it difficult for people to use the parks.
Over 2,000 cases of monkeybites are reported every year in the MCD area, which covers 97 per cent of Delhi, corporation officials said.
They also attributed the monkey boom to religion.
'If you go to some of the big temples or to monkey populated areas of the Ridge (the broken stretch of the Aravallis that roughly runs north to south of Delhi) on Tuesdays and Saturdays, you will see people turn up in droves to feed these monkeys,' said a senior official in the MCD's health department.
'This kind of feeding makes them dependent on humans and creates a menace as they become aggressive if they are not fed,' the official added.