State govt to oppose proposal to shift lions from Gir at Delhi meet
The Gujarat government will oppose the long-pending proposal of shifting a few Asiatic lions from Sasan Gir to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh, when this contentious issue comes up for discussion at a crucial meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife in Delhi on Wednesday.
Gujarat Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Pradeep Khanna told Newsline in the evening: "Gujarat's stand on the issue of trans-locating Gir lions has been consistent. We will resist any move to shift the big cats from Gir to Kuno Palpur, when it is taken up for discussion at the Board meeting tomorrow."
Khanna and Principal Secretary (Forest) S K Nanda will attend the Board meeting to be chaired by Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh. He said the Kuno wildlife sanctuary project mooted by Madhya Pradesh lacked scientific backing and security. Besides, there are only 300 of the total 1,000 tigers surviving in MP. "If the neighbouring state cannot protect its tigers, how can it protect lions?" he asked.
The PCCF also contended that tigers and lions cannot survive together in Kuno Palpur.
In response to a petition filed in the Supreme Court by a Delhi-based NGO for the transfer of Gir lions to MP, the apex court had referred the matter to the National Board for Wildlife and asked it to submit a report in the matter. After hearing the representatives from both Gujarat and MP at the Wednesday meeting, the Board will submit its report on the issue to the SC, sources said.
At the meeting, Gujarat will also seek the Board's permission for implementation on the Girnar Ropeway project in Junagadh. Gujarat proposes to acquire about eight hectares of forest land, where there are about 12,000 trees, for construction of pillars for the ropeway project. "Though there are about 12,000 trees standing on the forest land, the axe will fall only on 200 to 300 trees," said a senior Forest official.
The Board will also hear Gujarat's plea for laying a high tension electric line, and also the ONGC and IOC oil pipelines across the Wild Ass Sanctuary in Kutch. "We hope the Board will give its nod to both the proposals," Khanna said.
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