GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has sought approval from the Centre for its Rs 150-crore Lion Conservation Plan. Not only that, it has demanded that the central government bear the lion's share — Rs 135 crore — of the total project cost.
The state government has also demanded wildlife and environment clearance for Ambaradi Lion Safari Park in Amreli district; financial assistance for developing the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary; and immediate approval for 12 Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
PK Taneja, additional chief secretary, state forest and environment department, said that they have re-submitted to the Union ministry of environment forests and climate change, their proposal for 'Long-term Conservation of the Asiatic Lion'. Financially assistance for the lion conservation plan has been sought under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat (IDWH) scheme of the Centre.
"The demand is among those of Gujarat pending with the Union government. I have personally raised this and other issues with the secretary of Union forests ministry and got a positive response,'' said Taneja. The long-term conservation plan includes protection and conservation of lion habitat, eco-development, training, strengthening of communication, modern equipment, recruitments, and water and food facility for the Asiatic lions.
The three-year project was proposed on the basis of 90:10 sharing of cost, i.e. 90% of the project cost would be borne by the centre while the remaining 10% will be borne by the state government.
Four to five lakh tourists visit Sasan Gir every year.
State pushes for Ambardi Safari Park
Like the Devaliya Safari Park which was created to take off some of the tourist pressure from Sasan Gir, another Asiatic lion safari park is being built at Ambardi in Amreli district to further reduce the pressure of tourism. The Gujarat forest department had applied for permission to the Central Zoo Authority which granted in principal approval on May 21, 2008 with some conditions but final approval is yet to be granted. In its latest submission, the Gujarat government has requested approval at the earliest.
Approval sought for 12 Eco-Sensitive Zones
The state government had submitted various proposals for declaring Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) around sanctuaries and national parks. Out of these, 12 are awaiting approval from the Union ministry of environment and forests. These proposals are for the following parks and sanctuaries:
1 Thol Sanctuary
2 Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuary
3 Barda Sanctuary
4 Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary
5 Velavadar National Park
6 Gaga Sanctuary
7 Khijadiya Sanctuary
8 Jessor Sanctuary
9 Porbandar Bird Sanctuary
10 Rampara Sanctuary
11 Hingolgadh Sanctuary
12 Nalsarovar Sanctuary
Plan to save Great Indian Bustard
The Great Indian Bustard, a magnificent bird of the grasslands, is close to extinction in the country. About 200 birds are left in the whole country out of which 48 are estimated to be in Gujarat. A rescue plan — it includes the establishment of a National Level Conservation Breeding Centre for Great Indian Bustards in Kutch — was submitted to Union forests ministry in May 2014 by the state government. This species recovery plan for Great Indian Bustard has been prepared for a period of 10 years with a total estimated project cost of Rs.187.13 crore.