Dehradun: To provide relief to people in Uttarakhand's hill districts who complain of monkeys damaging their crops, the state forest department has planned to set up a monkey enclosure on 35 hectares within the Haridwar Forest Division. This will serve as a pilot project, and if successful, more enclosures could come up. 

Monkey catchers will be hired from Bijnor district in Uttar Pradesh, to round up animals creating a nuisance for farmers. A few months ago, the chief wildlife warden had empowered lower level staff to issue orders to kill wild boars and neelgai, and trap monkeys found damaging crops. There was, at that time, no provision for what would be done to the trapped monkeys. The enclosure will serve as a haven for those trapped animals. 

Forest minister Dinesh Aggarwal said, "Land has been identified for this at the Chidiyapur range of Haridwar Forest Division. The move will certainly help those people who have been troubled by monkeys damaging their crops. If this project turns out successful, we will built more such enclosures in other parts of the state." 

Of the about 38 hectares of fenced land within the Chidiyapur range, about 35 hectares has been earmarked for the monkey enclosure. Anil Dutt, principal chief conservator of forests, told TOI, "It is important to note that this enclosure will not be completely closed off - it will not have any roofing. The monkeys will get a big chunk of land in which to live freely, the surrounding fence will be raised so high that they cannot cross over." A detailed project report is being prepared, and funds will be needed to raise the height of the fence, he said. 

Monkeys will be provided food and water within the enclosure. There are fruit trees in the area, so they can also eat fruit. The department, however, has no plans of sterilizing the monkeys. 

"Sterilisation is a sensitive subject. The forest department is not going to take any steps in this direction unless the state government issues orders in the matter," Dutt said.

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