Govt drops lion conservation plan
The Times of India City
Gandhinagar: Gujarat government has officially dropped Rs 750 crore 'Long term Conservation of Asiatic Lion Plan' pursued by then CM and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the then Congress led UPA government aggressively .
Since past more than five years Gujarat government had pursued the project with the central government and had asked all the Members of Parliament (MPs) to follow the project up with the Union ministry of forest and environment(MoEF) rigorously . However, now the Gujarat government has officially dropped the plan for some unknown reasons. It has also re moved it from the official list of pending issues of Gujarat with the government of India recently given to Gujarat MPs.
The Gujarat government had re-submitted the Rs 750 crore 'Long term Conservation of Asiatic Lion Plan' to the govern ment of India soon after Narendra Modi had taken over as the Prime Minister in May 2014.
The project was shelved by ear lier UPA government. The key component of the plan was to relocate Maldharis from the Gir forest at the cost of Rs 97.50 crore outside the forest area and construction of ring road to restrict vehicle movement in the forest at approximate cost of Rs.600 crore.
When asked, state forest and environment minister Mangubhai Patel said, "The government of India has not approved the plan yet. However, we will pursue the project. It has been dropped from the list for some reasons.'' The minister, however, did not specify the reason.
The plan was first submitted to the deputy inspector general of forests (wildlife), MoEF in 2009 for the funding under the centrally sponsored scheme, out of which government of India's expected share was 90% of the cost. The main objective of the proposal was conservation of Asiatic lion and its associate biota in the greater Gir region including the Gir sanctuary and national park with main components like relocation of Maldharis (Rs 97.50 crore), habitat improvement (Rs 15 crore), wildlife protection (Rs 30 crore), veterinary care, rescue and conflict management(Rs 7.50 crore) eco-development, awareness, participation and ecotourism etc.
The state government had submitted a proposal for Asiatic Lion conservation under which construction of ring road around the Gir Protected Area System (Gir National Park and Gir, Pania, Mitiyala and Girnar Sanctuaries) was proposed at an approximate cost of Rs 600 crore.
Earlier the project was downsized by the Planning Commission of India to Rs 150 crore (except the ring road).Thereafter, it was dropped by the earlier Union government.Gir ring road proposal was also rejected by the government of India. After Modi took over as PM the state government forwarded these proposals to the government of India. However, it received no response since Modi came to power.