Thursday, July 31, 2014

MP government chips in Rs 30 crore for lion conservation.

Shashikant Trivedi  |  Bhopal 
Last Updated at 20:57 IST
Much-awaited reintroduction of Asiatic lions from Gir forests of Gujarat to of Sheopur district of will take off again as state government has allocated Rs 30 crore from its own resources to expedite the project.

To ensure safeguards to the endangered species from natural disaster, epidemics and other anthropogenic factors “Reintroduction of Asiatic project” was initiated by the Central government.

Currently, the population of the Asiatic lion is found only in Gir forests of Gujarat state.

Following, an objection of Gujarat government and a petition filed in the project remained standstill for sometime.

In a reply to a question of BJP MLA Satyapal Singh Sikarwar, state forest minister Gauri Shankar Shejwar informed the state assembly today that during a recent meeting, chief minister has ensured a fund of Rs 30 crore for the project though an amount of Rs 69 crore is needed to expand the sanctuary and subsequently resettle and rehabilitate two more villages from it.

The minister further informed that a special committee had been constituted following a April 15, 2013 order of Supreme Court in this regard.

The committee, which had to approve a plan, in its latest report said that the existing area of the sanctuary needed to be expanded in order to introduce the lions and a fund of Rs 69 crore was required for the purpose.
The fund was awaited from Central government but state chief minister had announced that state can invest to an extent of Rs 30 crore in further expansion in a recent Wildlife Board meet. The amount of the fund would be adjusted when Central government releases the fund, Shejwar informed further.
The Kuno sanctuary area presently is 344 sq km and a buffer of 890 sq km around it thus the total area of the sanctuary is 12,34 sq km. But according to the minster it was not sufficient for reintroduction of the lions.
As many as 24 villages have been resettled from the sanctuary. Sikarwar also raised the issue of basic amenities. He alleged that 1,600 affected families are deprived of basic facilities. The minister however, said once the expansion and resettlement of two villages is complete and the fund from the Central government released, the Asiatic lions would be introduced into the sanctuary. However he did not give any time frame for process.

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