Monkey business makes residents go bananas

Monkey business makes residents go bananas

Troublesome simians

With no funds to attend to this monkey business, the forest department recently came up with a novel idea: residents of B P Wadia Road at Basavanagudi which, of late, has been bearing the brunt of a monkey menace, have to cough up Rs 20,000 each if they have to have a respite from simian trouble.

Venkatraman, a B P Wadia Road resident, said: “After I complained to the BBMP in June this year about the monkey menace in our locality, some forest officials and monkey-catchers were sent to do the job.” When a group of residents met a forest department official, they were allegedly asked to pay Rs 20,000 to the ‘contractors’ who would perform the job of trapping the troublesome primates.

Stunned by the proposition, Venkatraman filed a Right to Information (RTI) application with the forest department, seeking details on the decision to charge a fee to catch monkeys.

Addressed to the Chief Conservator of Forests, the application, filed on July 16, 2009, sought responses on the following questions:

Whether the Karnataka Municipality Act or any other rule authorised forest officials to charge a fee for catching monkeys in the city?

What was the total number of complaints on monkey menace the forest department had received in the past 12 months?

Since when have residents been asked to pay for such services and what was the total amount collected by the department in the past five years?

Incomplete reply

As a followup to the problem, on July 23 2009, the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) sent a letter to the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), a copy of which was acquired by the RTI applicant, asking the authorities to take necessary action to resolve the issue.

In the letter, directions were given to ensure that the monkeys were to be caught with utmost care and “to charge the citizens for the service as the Forest Department has not received any funds this year for the work.” Further, the letter stated that the monkeys were to be caught in the presence of officials from the Animal and Husbandry Department, BBMP and forest department officials and subsequently released in the Bannerghatta National Forest.

The DCF forwarded his superior officer’s instructions to the Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) who, in turn, directed the Range Officer for Bangalore (South) to perform the duty.

It has been three months since the RTI was filed, but Venkatraman has not received any reply on his queries. Meanwhile, the primates have vanished from B P Wadia Road.