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.