Friday, October 30, 2015

Lion conservation: NDA says no funds under IDHW

AHMEDABAD: At a time when the lion population is increasing and now spread in an area of 22,000 sq km across Saurashtra, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has denied funds under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) for the long term conservation of Asiatic Lion in Greater Gir area.

The state has 523 lions according to the 2015 census. Of these, 170-odd lions (one-third of the population) have made their permanent homes outside Gir Sanctuary.

The state forest department officials said the state has first drawn a project worth Rs 264 crore for the long term conservation of the lions in the area outside the protected area. However, during the UPA region, the state government first sought funds from the Planning Commission.

However, the commission refused funds and asked the state to scale down the proposal. Finally Rs 150 crore was sent, of which 135 crore was to be funded by the Centre, while the remaining was the state government's share.

However, in 2011 the UPA government in a reply to Darshana Jardosh question had stated in Lok Sabha: "Planning Commission did not provide additional funds for supporting the project, and advised the ministry that it should be supported within the budget allocated for the centrally sponsored scheme of IDWH. Despite paucity of funds under the scheme, the ministry released financial assistance amounting to Rs 6.74 crore during the financial year 2010-11 to the Gujarat government for undertaking some activities proposed during the first year of the project."

However again in 2015, BJP Junagadh MP Rajesh Chudasma sought to know whether the Centre proposed to grant necessary funds for conservation of Asiatic Lions and also the quantum of funds to be released for the project.

Union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar replied in Lok Sabha that the ministry had received proposal from the Gujarat government with a total cost of Rs 150 crores. The state government had sought central funding of Rs135 crores and had proposed to share Rs 15 crore. The proposal had been examined by the ministry. However, requisite funds were not available under the IDWH.

In the past the Union government had stated that the Planning Commission had not provided additional funds for supporting the project citing that there was no project like Project Tiger which was taken up by the Centre and also that lions were found only in one state. The UPA government had agreed in principal to fund the project. However, it is the first time that this NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly said that no funds can be allocated.

No comments: