Monkeys run riot in Reliance IPCL complex

By Rafat Qadri,IANS,

Vadodara : The sprawling 1,263-acre IPCL petrochemicals complex of Reliance Industries in this central Gujarat city is now fighting an invasion of langurs, and officials have been forced to summon three professional monkey catchers from Mumbai to capture them.

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The group of 250-300 langurs has created a security scare at this IPCL complex that has a naphtha cracker and 15 downstream plants for the manufacture of polymers, fibres, fibre intermediates and chemicals.

The Hanuman langur of Ramayan fame is probably the best-known species of Asian leaf-eating monkeys. They are found in a wide range of habitats and are as agile on the ground as among the branches. Now they have proved themselves as agile on the pipelines and other structures of a chemical engineering complex.

Reliance had to summon professional monkey ctachers after the local forestry department failed to solve the problem. R.K. Desai, head of the Reliance Safety Department at IPCL, said the langurs had indeed created a scare as the IPCL complex deals in some highly sensitive and explosive petrochemical products like acrylonitrile and benzene.

Deputy Conservator of Forest (DDF), Social Forestry, Vadodara Circle Nayan Desai said the necessary permission had been issued to Reliance to allow the professional experts to nab the langurs. “The wooded greens at the vast estate provide the ideal habitat for these monkeys and they have a tendency to barge in areas inhabited by human beings,” Nayan Desai said.

Now the experts from Mumbai have put up cages at strategic locations and the process of catching langurs is in full swing. “In all probability, we will be able to capture all the monkeys in the next 15 days,” a security official said.

After catching these monkeys, the cages are being transported to the Jambughoda Sanctuary in the eastern part of Vadodara district where the langurs are being released.

The langur invasion of the IPCL complex was noticed in the last week of August and the first week of September when a large group was seen going up and down the pipelines other structures of the huge complex.

Alarmed at what the monkeys could do, R.K. Desai shot off a letter to the Social Forestry Circle of Vadodara. He sought urgent help from the forest officials as the monkeys could damage the pipelines that carried highly explosive petrochemical products. “Their playful pranks could lead to a major mishap,” the letter said.

However, the forest department did not have adequate manpower to go after the monkeys. Then IPCL’s safety department officials handed over “operation langur” to their own security personnel. Now the security department officials have called in the professional from Mumbai.

“What I can say at this juncture is that the work of trapping the monkeys is under progress,” R.K. Desai said.