Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gujarat claws its way back in lion war

Gujarat claws its way back in lion war
Times of India

The battle over the translocation of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh is back in the Supreme Court. The Gujarat government on Tuesday moved a petition challenging the April 15 order which directed the state to translocate lions to Palpur-Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

The review petition which was filed in the apex court has relied heavily on the argument that the court had been misguided by Madhya Pradesh. The petition quotes a report prepared for the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The judgment dated April 15 had said: "The State of Gujarat has also raised various other objections stating that the past track record would indicate that the State of Madhya Pradesh is not taking any effective steps to control poaching which is also a threat if lions are translocated to Kuno. To meet that contention, the State of Madhya Pradesh stated that the Tiger Authority of India in its report â€" Tiger Meetr, July 2011 â€" has assessed the performance of the State of Madhya Pradesh as outstanding, which would indicate that they had taken effective steps against poaching of animals at Kuno." The review petition argues that though the Madhya Pradesh government has in the apex court highlighted the safety in Kuno, the report which was used as a base to make the claims does not even mention Palpur-Kuno.

Also, the Gujarat government has raised doubts about the claims that the prey base in Palpur-Kuno was better than that of Gujarat. Moreover, Gujarat contends that the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, have been violated. The act says that no translocation process can be started without the permission of the chief wildlife warden of the state to which the animal belongs.

The permission has to be sought even if just one animal is to be shifted for research. The Gujarat government alleges that no such permission was sought and yet the Madhya Pradesh government had started investing in Palpur-Kuno. This is the second such plea in the apex court. The Congress MLA from Manavadar, Jawahar Chavda, had filed a petition on similar grounds a week ago. Both petitions underline the dangers to the lions in MP, including rampant poaching. The state government's petition covers about a dozen issues, and says that the fear of epidemic in Gir was imaginary.

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