Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rs 600 crore for tiger, no allocation for conserving lion


Rs 600 crore for tiger, no allocation for conserving lion

Times Of India Ahmedabad Edition

Gandhinagar: The clamour over poaching of eight lions last year notwithstanding, the Central government has not made any marked budgetary allocation in the 11th Five-Year Plan for programmes concerning lions’ conservation in the state. A three-member Central team had also visited Gir Sanctuary to assess the problems faced in conservation there.

This, even as the budget for Project Tiger, aimed at conserving this fast-diminishing animal has been enhanced over four times to Rs 600 crore. Sources in the state forest department said the Central government had also decided to create eight new reserves in the country. The Centre will spend Rs 600 crore in the 11th plan on protecting the tiger, whose numbers in India have gone down dramatically in the last f ew ye a r s, mainly because of poaching. In the 10th Five-Year Plan, Project Tiger had a budget of Rs 150 crore only. However, Gir, the only abode of Asiatic Lion in the world, has got no fund allocation.

Officials said that after the three-member committee rushed to Gir last year, there were hopes that more funds will be allocated for lion conservation. But this has not happened. They said that under the 11th plan, lion conservation will get regular funds under the management and training head, but there will be no allocation for their conservation as in the case of tiger.

However, a top official in the Union forest and environment ministry justified the decision saying there is a conservation authority for tigers, hence, the funds were allocated.

“There is no such authority formed either by the Centre or the state government under which the allocation could be done,” he said. Moreover, the cost of rehabilitation of people near tiger reserves has shot up nearly 10 times to Rs 10 lakh from around Rs 1 lakh, and hence, enhancing the allocation for Project Tiger was essential.

The official claimed that the Gujarat government has not towed Central government’s line on relocation of Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh because of which the Centre was not too keen to help the state.

Meanwhile, activists in the state are planning to write to the Centre to allocate funds for lion conservation. Kishore Kotecha of Wildlife Conservation Trust said, “The Central government is not keen on lions’ conservation that is why they are only sending teams. We will write to the prime minister to pay more attention towards lions’ conservation also.”

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