Lions lose funds catfight to tigers
THE TIMES OF INDIA
AHMEDABAD: Given that both the Asiatic lion and the Bengal tiger are in the same "endangered" category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Centre's stepmotherly attitude towards the Asiatic lion is difficult to understand. Both UPA and NDA governments at the Centre have shown the same disregard for conservation of Asiatic lions allocating for lions funds equivalent to only 2.6% of that spent on Bengal tigers.
Between 2012 and 2017, Project Tiger bagged Rs1,007 crore for conservation from the Centre, but the Asiatic lion received a paltry Rs25.80 crore to save itself.
Remaining fixed in its stand of not providing separate funds for lion conservation, the Union government has not only rejected Gujarat government's proposal, "A Plan for Consolidating Long Term Conservation of Asiatic Lions," but also asked the state government to prioritize projects and activities within Rs1 crore.
The ministry has said that Asiatic lion conservation does not fall under the category of "scheduled project" and cannot be considered at par with the tiger conservation project.
In reply to a question by an MP from West Bengal, Md Nadimul Haque, the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change stated that Gujarat government had sought central funding to the tune of Rs135 crore and had proposed bearing a share of Rs 15 crore for lion conservation.
"However, as the requisite funds were not available under the centrally sponsored scheme - 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH)' the state government of Gujarat was advised to review the proposal and prioritize activities up to Rs 1 crore," stated the ministry's reply.
The Union government also stated in its reply that the Gujarat government has been told to "submit the proposal under the component of 'Recovery programme for saving critically endangered species'."