Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gujarat rejects Ramesh's tiger offer.

Gyan Varma / DNA
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 0:38 IST

New Delhi: “You give me lions and I will give you tigers.” This is what environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in a recent letter.

Ramesh was desperately trying to convince the Modi government to part with Asiatic lions from the Gir reserve so that his ministry could relocate the animals to a protected area in Madhya Pradesh (MP).

But this proposal has failed to cut ice with the Modi government. State government officials claimed the proposal was made by Ramesh some time back and a “quid pro quo” is not possible.
“We do not have that kind of area to accommodate tigers. Entire villages have to be rehabilitated in Dangs. The reason we are not parting with the lions is because they will not be safe in MP. The MP reserve is meant for tigers. A deal cannot be struck by getting tigers in,” a senior official of Gujarat’s forest and environment department said.

Ramesh had tried to convince Modi before, but met with disappointment every time. Ramesh has promised a tiger reserve at Dangs, where tigers were found till 25 years ago. The lions were supposed to be relocated from the Gir sanctuary in Gujarat to the Kuno tiger reserve in MP.

The Supreme Court had, on February 12, asked Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments to sort out their differences on the issue within four weeks. Gujarat has told the SC that it was being pressured to shift the lions as the Centre feared they would get infected with canine distemper virus (CDV) if they stayed at Gir. The last census of 2005 pegged the lion population of Gir at 359. The next census is scheduled in April this year.

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