Monday, March 30, 2015

Gujarat forest department used only half its lion funds.

 By Himanshu Kaushik, TNN | 28 Feb, 2015, 05.00PM IST

AHMEDABAD: If the figures tabled in the state assembly are to be believed, the government has spent less than 50% of the grants allocated to lion conservation in 2014-2015.

The state government allocated 43.95 crore in the financial year 2014-15 for lion conservation, but the forest department has only spent Rs 21.57 crore. The state government divulged this in reply to a question by Visavadar MLA Harshad Rabadiya. The state government said the government had released 43.95% crore till January 31, 2015 but the department utilized only Rs 21.57 crore, or 49% of the funds released.

However, the government has not revealed what was the grant was released and what it was used for. The officials said that the majority of funds were utilized for purchase of rescue equipment and for treatment of the rescued animals.

Meanwhile, to another question the government replied that 10 Asiatic lions have been transferred to zoos in various parts of the country. The government in response to Amreli MLA Paresh Dhanani said that the 10 lions were sent to zoos for the long term conservation of Asiatic lions and to educate people on the Asiatic lion. The big cats were transferred with permission from the competent authority and as part of the zoo exchange programme.

During the recent Vibrant Gujarat summit, the forest department inked an MOU to send the Asiatic lions from a zoo here to one in the Czech Republic. The Gujarat government had approved the proposal to give the lions to the Czech government. The lions to transferred will not be taken from the Gir forest but from Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh.

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