Parliamentary panel to visit Gir for two days
THE TIMES OF INDIA
AHMEDABAD: A 31-member parliamentary committee will visit Gir for two days from Tuesday to get a sense of people's views on the translocation of some lions to Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. The committee's remit covers science and technology and environment and forests. Renuka Chowdhury, a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh, heads the committee which is likely to hold meetings with NGOs and members of civil society.
The visit assumes importance after Gujarat's forest department placed its objections before a 12-member expert committee which has been appointed by the Supreme Court to manage the translocation from Gir, the only abode of Asiatic lions. The expert committee found the Kuno-Palpur habitat suitable for lions. However, there has been a difference of opinion between Gujarat's forest department and the expert committee over studies to be conducted before translocation can take place.
The forest department wants the committee to wait for 36 mandatory studies to be completed before authorizing the transfer of lions. The studies are mandated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and relate to the scrutiny of Kuno-Palpur in matters such as prey base, habitat, vegetation, and weather. Other study areas include previous reintroduction of animals if any, and socio-economic and legal requirements.
Pankaj Chaudhary, the BJP MP from Maharajganj (UP) who is a member of the parliamentary committee, said: "The panel will talk to people about the issues concerning Gir. The committee may discuss translocation with local people."
Residents of Gir are prepared to make representations on the problems they face. They will also make representations against translocating lions. NGOs operating in Gir have held a meeting and have decided that they will raise their voice against translocation and also place local issues before the committee.
Dinesh Goswami of the Prakruti Nature Club, Kodinar, said: "NGOs will insist that if translocation is to take place at all, it should be done in accordance with IUCN guidelines as stated by the apex court." NGOs too want studies to be completed before translocation is approved.
"Only then will the people of Gujarat, especially of Saurashtra, will allow translocation."
However, an official of another NGO — who did not want to be named — said that the parliamentary committee had no locus standi to discuss translocation. Only the SC-appointed committee has any authority in the matter, he said.