MP-Gujarat battle over Asiatic lion's share hots up
Bandh in Sheopur district of MP after Modi refuses to translocate the big cats
LOCALS in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh are upset with the Gujarat government's decision to disallow translocation of Asiatic lions to the PalpurKuno sanctuary there, a move which they say will hamper tourism and employment prospects in the area.
The issue of translocation has become a bone of contention between the two BJP-ruled states as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has refused to part with the Asiatic lions to the neighbouring state, following which a day-long bandh was observed on January 4 in the district to protest the move. Sheopur District Youth Congress President, Atul Chouhan, who gave the bandh call, has demanded that the lions be immediately translocated to Palpur-Kuno sanctuary as it is now ready to accommodate the lions.
He claimed Palpur-Kuno was shortlisted as a second home for Asiatic Lions by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India after selecting six places nearly 15-16 years ago.
Also, a total of 28 villages were shifted out of the Palpur-Kuno sanctuary, spread in an area of nearly 340 sq km, Chouhan said.
"Nearly 6500 families, mostly tribals, have handed over their agriculture land to the forest department for welcoming Asiatic Lions
into their area," he said.
The rehabilitation was carried out by spending huge amount of taxpayers money. Now, in these 28 villages and other adjoining areas, people feel cheated as they were hoping to get employment once the lions are shifted to the sanctuary, he said.
Also, the people of Madhya Pradesh have sacrificed their land twice — first in Palpur-Kuno and second time in Harsud in Khandwa district for the Sardar Sarovar Project on river Narmada — and now the time has come for them (Gujarat) to pay back by parting with a few pairs of lions so that people of the region get the much needed employment," he said.
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