India's national bird, the peacock, and the Great Indian bison may have been dropped from a potential list of vermin animals and birds, but wild boars and monkeys may not be so lucky.
BJP MP Narendra Savoikar said that while there was genuine concern among farmers from areas fringing the Western Ghats about wild animals and birds destroying their crop, the process to declare some species vermin was long drawn.
"Already the government and the MOEF (ministry of environment and forest) minister has spelled out the points. Peacock is not an issue, " Savoikar told IANS.
Savoikar also said that the possibility of the bison, locally known as the gaur, being declared vermin was also slim, given the assurances given by Goa's Forest and Environment Minister Rajendra Arlekar.
"The state MoEF minister has already said the bison cannot be included in the vermin list because it is a state animal. But there are complaints by farmers about damage caused to crops by wild animals, " Savoikar said.
Last week, Goa's Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar had said that a process was on to declare peacocks, bisons, wild boars and some species of monkeys as vermin or nuisance animals because they were damaging crops and horticulture.
While the peacock is the national bird, the bison is the state animal of Goa. It is also part of the official logo of the FC Goa team, which is based in the state.
His comments had triggered uproar. Political parties in Goa, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, condemned the comments.
Savoikar now claims that the concerns of the farmers about wild animals foraging and destroying fields and horticulture crops were genuine but declaration of a wild animal or bird species as vermin was long drawn and needed consent from the central government.
Opposition leader Pratapsing Rane had partially supported the BJP - led government's intention to classify crop - destroying animals as vermin.
A former chief minister, Rane told IANS that wild boars and certain species of monkeys had become a menace and suggested that they be declared as vermin.
"There was a time when wild boars could be killed. They are prolific breeders and there are too many of them. Certain kinds of monkeys are also becoming a problem for farmers, " Rane said, adding that scientific methods should be used to keep peacocks and bisons from the fields instead of declaring them as vermin.
But declaration of wild boars and monkeys as vermin would take a while, says Savoikar, given the fact that a state government - appointed committee has to first make a formal case for the same after conducting a scientific study of the issue and then approach the central government for approval.
"The procedure to declare animals as vermin is long and there cannot be an overnight decision. . . There are concerns from some sections of the people, mostly from areas like Sattari, Valpoi and those near the Western Ghats. Farmers have concerns, " Savoikar said.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan. n@ians. in)