Friday, January 25, 2008

All's not 'well' for Gir lions; Only 800 Wells Covered In a Year


All’s not ‘well’ for Gir lions; Only 800 Wells Covered In a Year

Times of India Ahmedabad Edition

Amreli: After big promises were made to safeguard the killer wells of Gir, an incident on Tuesday, when a two-year-old lion cub fell into one, shouts out loud for them to be fulfilled. The cub apparently tripped into an open well, which had a one-foot high wall, on the Dhari-Khambha road on the outskirts of Madhupur village. Luckily, Una forest staff saved it in time and has kept it in custody till its pride was found.

It had taken eight poached lions in Gir in March-April 2007 and uproar, for the government to awaken to the cause of preserving the pride of our nation. The Tuesday incident has brought to light the potential danger some 10,000 odd open wells in and around Gir could cause to the big cats. The state government had then proposed an action plan to build parapets around the wells. Top corporate bosses attended a high-level meeting in May 2007 in which they were roped in to build these parapet walls.

TOI found that though work did start, and a few wells have been barricaded, very little has happened on the ground. Kishore Kotecha of Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot says, “Lack of funds is a major issue. Each barricade costs Rs 10,000, and though the government chips in Rs 4,000, we have to manage Rs 6,000 from our pockets. I could complete barricading of 109 wells as per an MOU that I had signed only with contribution of my contacts. Now, the WWF has financed 75 wells but it is not enough.”

When asked of corporate participation, Kotecha said, “Several corporates did come forth but implementation is very slow. Reliance had committed 1,500, but have made only a few wells, Ambuja Cements had committed 500 and completed 120, Tata Chemicals committed about a 1,000 and have completed only 50 odd wells. The work though started with a lot of zest, is happening at a very slow pace. We expect to finish only 800 wells by March. If a company does not wish to undertake construction themselves they can always get it done by an NGO like ours.” So the score card so far is 800 of 10,000 wells covered in one year, which comes to 0.08 per cent completion rate!

No comments:

Previous Posts