Appearing for the Madhya Pradesh government, counsel Vibha Makhija told the Supreme Court’s forest bench of Justices that funds have already been spent on making the Kunopal sanctuary habitable for the Asiatic lions as per the project conceived in 1992.
Makhija said Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were chosen to identify the sanctuary and it was Kunopal sanctuary that was finally identified for translocation of the lion.
The Gujarat government earlier this month told the Supreme Court that it could not consent to the shifting of its Asiatic lions from Gir forests as there was no proper study on their translocation.
The apex court was told that “Gujarat’s objection to the translocation can’t be permitted”.
“All experts have agreed to the desirability and urgency of the project. It is not a national but an international project.” The court said it was not the “desirability” but the “necessity”.
The move to shift some of the Asiatic lions from Gir forest was made by the wild life experts fearing that the entire lion population would become extinct because of some genetic, environmental reasons or outbreak of an epidemic.
The Madhya Pradesh counsel said, for preparing Kunopal sanctuary, 24 villages have already been shifted.
The court was told that there were several water bodies in the area and Kuno river flowed through the sanctuary that constantly recharges water bowls.