Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bhopal: Clarify stand on Asiatic lions: SC tells Gujarat, MoEF

Bhopal: Clarify stand on Asiatic lions: SC tells Gujarat, MoEF

Bhopal: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Gujarat government and Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to clear its stand regarding the non-compliance of its previous order for translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir (Gujarat) to Kuno Palpur in MP's Sheopur district, located 140 kilometres from Gwalior.

The court issued the order in response to the contempt petition filed by RTI activist Ajay Dubey.In April 2013, Supreme Court had ordered translocation of Asiatic lions.

Wildlife activist Fayaz Khudsar had filed a public interest litigation in the apex court in 2006 and sought translocation of Gir lions to MP. In April 2013, the apex court in a judgment directed that the lions be translocated to Kuno Palpur in MP. In fact,the committee constituted by the Supreme Court in 2013 visited Kuno Palpur Sanctuary and held its meeting there. After the meeting, the committee members came to conclusion that Kuno was ideally suited to become a second home for Asiatic llions.

Translocation of lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur has been a bone of contention between two BJP rules states for more than a decade with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming the big cats as "pride of Gujarat" which the state cannot share with others. He made this statement when he was Gujarat's chief minister between 2002 and 2014.

The committee during its last meeting held in December 2016 in Kuno, in which officials from Gujarat forest department also participated, reiterated that the wildlife habitat was "ideally suited to become second home for lions." Varun Chopra, the Supreme Court advocate and counsel for Ajay Dubey, said,"Supreme court issued notices to MoEF and Gujarat government over translocation of Asiatic lions.Despite committee's recommendations,lions have not been translocated."

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