Friday, August 28, 2015

Subsidy hike to cover wells around Gir not yet cleared

AHMEDABAD: The death of one more lion in Visnagar has once again raised concerns over open wells outside the Gir sanctuary. Forest department officials said they have already forwarded a proposal to increase the subsidy given for covering wells from Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000. However, the state government is yet to give its final nod to the proposal, pending which no new project to cover wells has been taken up by the department. There are over 10,000 open wells in the periphery of the sanctuary. Officials said that on an average, the department receives around 110 lion and other wildlife rescue calls every year. Of these, around five per cent calls are about lions falling in wells. Earlier, the percentage of such cases hovered around 15 to 20 of the total rescue.

According to officials, there were more than 25,000 big and small open wells in 2008. The government then came out with a policy of giving Rs 8,000 to farmers for covering and constructing parapets around their wells. Around 24,000 wells have been covered under the project over the last five years while 1,500-odd big wells remain open. However, with lions venturing out up to Bhavnagar, the number of open wells has now reached almost 10,000.

Officials said that due to lack of funds the department has not been able to cover the big wells, which are turning into killer wells. They said that now it is not possible to cover the wells for Rs 8,000, so they recommended a hike in subsidy.

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