No monkeying around with issues
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Poll issues: Attacks by wild animals, simians.
Besides charges of corruption against both the Congress and the BJP and the state government facing allegations of poor governance during the last five years, monkey menace and terror by stray and wild animals have also become key issues on which parties are trying to woo voters in Himachal Pradesh.
In the last three years, Himachal has witnessed around 2,800 cases of attack on humans and cattle by wild animals like leopards, monkeys and bears. At least 23 people have lost their lives in such attacks. The state government had identified nine species of animals — wild boar, porcupine, monkeys, jackal, blue bull, sambar, cheetal, hare and parrot — which can damage crops.
Be it state Congress chief Virbhadra Singh or Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, both are promising people that they would get rid of such animals, if chosen to power.
In a rally held in Mandi last week, where Congress president Sonia Gandhi also addressed the people, Virbhadra asked the BJP leadership to come out with details on its policy to tackle the problem.
Congress candidate from Shahpur in Kangra district, Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, is also raising the issue of wild animals and monkey menace in rallies. "In Shahpur constituency's Changar village, even today, people are terrified and disturbed because of the increasing monkey menace and attacks by wild animals. The issue is very serious, but the BJP government has not done enough to deal with the menace. When Congress comes to power, we will definitely take up the issue on priority," Mankotia said.
Monkey menace has been troubling the Himachal Pradesh for several years now. In 2007, the state government had even initiated a move to sterilise monkeys to check their growth. Currently, sterilisation centres are functional in Tutikandi in Shimla, Boil in Una, Saster in Hamirpur and Gopalpur in Kangra district. The issue had even rocked state Assembly earlier this year.
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