The peacock, India's national bird, may soon be termed a vermin and culled ruthlessly in Goa.
Goa's Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar said peacocks, like monkeys and wild boars, cause severe damage to crops and "should be declared a vermin" and culled periodically, even as the main opposition party, the Congress, has termed the suggestion "suicidal".
Tawadkar told IANS on Friday that a committee of government officials was considering the matter.
"We have said in the last assembly (sitting) about monkeys and wild boars creating a nuisance for farmers and that a committee would be formed to assess and declare them as vermin, " he said.
Peacock is India's national bird and is a protected species under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
"Some farmers said that peacocks also were damaging their crops in fields in hilly areas. The committee will also assess whether peacocks should be declared vermin or nuisance species, " Tawadkar said.
Tawadkar's comment comes one day after he suggested during a media interaction in Margao town, 35 km from Panaji, that the state animal, the Great Indian bison, an animal protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, could also be classified as vermin or a nuisance animal.
The Goa agriculture minister, however, said that no species of animals or birds, including the peacock, have yet been declared a vermin.
Goa state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro told IANS that the move to classify as vermin the Great Indian bison, also known as 'gaur', and the peacock was suicidal.
"They are out to finish the state. I pray to God to give them sense to save Goa for our generations. When someone wants to kill the national bird and the state animal it is suicidal. They are out to kill environment, ecology, everything you have got, " Faleiro said.
During the winter session of the Goa legislative assembly last month, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had assured that wild boars, monkeys and other wild animals, which disrupt agricultural and horticultural activity and destroy crops would soon be classified as vermin.
"Time has come to classify some of these animals as vermin. Monkeys and wild boar regularly destroy fields, " Parsekar said.
Rapid growth of urban areas and shrinking forest cover in Goa have increasingly left less space for wild life, which often encroaches upon human habitat.