The plan, to save the lions from a disaster that could wipe them out in one go, involved relocating five of them from Gir to a 300 sqkm forest at Kunopalpur in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh.
As many as 30 villages falling within the identified area were relocated in 2003, but the plan mooted by the Wildlife Institute of India and accepted by the Centre is still hanging fire. A petition filed by Bio-diversity Conservation Trust of India through counsel Ritwick Datta alleged that the main reason for the stalling of the plan was the U-turn by the Narendra Modi government.
When amicus curiae Raj Panjwani brought this matter to the notice of a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran, it sought the views of both state governments as well as the National Board for Wildlife within four weeks.
Appearing for the
"The experts feel that tigers and lions can never co-exist in the wild," he said, rejecting the argument of the petitioner that the
Madhya Pradesh's counsel Vibha Makhija said that she would ascertain the views of the state government and file a response even as the Bench said: "The plan appears to safeguard the Asiatic lions from perishing altogether as they live in groups within the confines of Gir forest."