Friday, March 31, 2017

No Centre grants for Gir Lion project since two years, says Gujarat govt

A lioness with her cubs in Gir forest.(Representative photo)A lioness with her cubs in Gir forest.(Representative photo)

| | Mar 14, 2017, 07.08 PM IST7, 07.08 PM IST
AHMEDABAD: The state government has admitted that the central government has since January 2015 not given any grants for the Gir Lion project in the state.

The state government in reply to the question of Prantij MLA Mahendrasinh Bariya said that in the last two years since December 31, 2015, the central government has not allocated any funds for the Gir Lion projects.

However, the government in another reply to UNA MLA Punja Vansh claimed that the government in the financial year has allocated 21.88 crore while in 2015-16 it has allocated only 14.29 crore. The government claimed that in 2014-15 some 60 works in Gir-east and west were completed. While the same in 2015-16 it was only 44 works.

Sources in the forest department refusing to be quoted said Greater Gir remains the last habitat of Asiatic lions on earth, and it seems to have no place in the Centre's Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH). Earlier, the UPA government had cold shouldered the Rs 234-crore proposal for long-term lion conservation, claiming so much money cannot be allocated for a single species. After Gujarat government whittled down requirements and sent a revised proposal for Rs 150 crore, the NDA government has refused to grant any money at all, citing lack of funds.

Officials admitted that the project proposal with estimated cost of Rs 150 crore had been submitted by the Gujarat government in 2014 for financial assistance under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats - a centrally sponsored scheme. Gujarat had sought Rs 135 crore from the Centre and the state. The officer said that the Gujarat forest department has received the Union government's intimation, and now we are trying to realize the project through various other schemes of state and Union government.

Officials are now trying to break down the project requirements into different components and see whether some of them can be funded via other schemes. A senior forest officer said, "The department will now seek funds under Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project among various other schemes."

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