Friday, May 16, 2008

Corporates ‘well’ on way to save lion


Corporates 'well' on way to save lion

Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Ahmedabad: Corporates are lining up to save the rare Asiatic lion in Gir. The move comes in the aftermath of last year's incidents of poaching inside the Gir sanctuary.

The state government has formed a Gujarat State Lion Conservation Society and several corporate houses have lined up to help the state government to help save the lions.

A senior officer, requesting anonymity, said that the government made a song and dance while announcing a corpus fund to save the lion. But, reality is quite different. The government this year has allocated only Rs 12 crore which have been spent in purchasing new vehicles, night vision binoculars and other gadgets. 
"There was next to nothing left for covering up wells. Every year, four to five lions die after accidentally falling into the wells. Due to non-availability of funds, the forest department has not been able to speed up the covering of wells," said a senior government official. But, help has come from the corporate sector with private organizations expressing their willingness to cover the open wells which have proved to be death traps for lions and their cubs.
Officials said that there were nearly 9,000 wells which were to be covered with parapet walls. Principal chief conservator of forest (wild life) Pradeep Khanna said that after the government formed GSLCS, several corporates volunteered to construct the wells on their own following the design of the state government. There were others who wanted to donate money.
Khanna added: "Reliance has begun covering 1,500 wells around the protected Gir national park, while Tata has taken up 1,000 wells. Ambuja has shown willingness to cover 300 wells.
He said that apart from these three, L &T contributed Rs 12 lakh, followed by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) which donated Rs 5 lakh.

He said that some of the communities have also donated money. In all, the forest department collected nearly Rs 19 lakh for the work.

He added that Vanishing Hut Foundation, a voluntary group, was also involved in covering the wells. Besides, efforts were also on to rope in the Confederation of Indian Industries. 
"Of the nearly 9,000 wells, 2,100 have been covered and another 3,000 will be covered this year. All the wells will be covered by 2009-10. The state government too will pitch in with its share of contribution," said Khanna.

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