Centre gave no extra grants for Gir lion project
THE TIMES OF INDIA
GANDHINAGAR: The state government has admitted that for two years — from Januaary 2015 to Decembler 2016 — the central government did not given any additional grants for the Gir lion projectin Gujarat.
In reply to a question of Prantij MLA Mahendrasinh Baraiya, the state government said that in the two years ending on December 31, 2015, the Centre did not give any additional funds for the Greater Gir project.
However, in reply to another question by Una MLA Punja Vansh, the state government claimed that in this financial year, it had allocated Rs 21.88 crore from its own coffers while in 2015-16 it had allocated only Rs 14.29 crore.
The state government further claimed that in 2014-15 some 60 works in Gir-East and West were completed. In 2015-16, however, only 44 works could be completed.
Sources in the forest department said that Greater Gir remains the last habitat of Asiatic lions on earth. Yet it seems to have no place in the centrally-sponsored scheme, Centre's Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH). Earlier, the UPA government had turned down the state government's Rs 234-crore proposal for long-term lion conservation. The Centre had then claimed that so much money could not be allocated to a single species. After the Gujarat government whittled down its requirements and sent a revised proposal of Rs 150 crore, the NDA government refused to grant any money, citing lack of funds.
Sources said that in 2014, the Gujarat government had submitted the project proposal with an estimated cost of Rs150 crore for financial assistance under the IDWH. Gujarat had sought Rs 135 crore from the Centre while the state was to pay the remaining Rs 15 crore.
The sources said that the Gujarat forest department had received the Centre's intimation. "We are now trying to fund the project through various other schemes of the state and the Union government," an official said.
Officials are now trying to break down the project requirements into different components and see whether some of them can be funded via other schemes. A senior officer said the forest department will now seek funds under Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project, among various other schemes. Gujarat's environment and forest minister, Ganpat Vasava, was not available for his comments.