Friday, March 31, 2017

When will Asiatic lions roar in Palpur-Kuno, asks Congress

| Updated: Mar 1, 2017, 07.00 AM ISTBHOPAL: Congress raised the issue of translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat's Gir to Palpur-Kuno in Madhya Pradesh in the Assembly on Tuesday while asking the reason for the delay.

"Why are Asiatic lions still not being brought to Palpur-Kuno and what has been the communication by the state government to bring them here?" Congress MLA from Lahar seat Dr Govind Singh asked during the Question Hour.

In reply, minister for forests Dr Gauri Shankar Shejwar told the House, "The Madhya Pradesh government is not the hindrance to bringing Gir lions to Palpur-Kuno."

Even after evacuating 344 sq km area for Palpur-Kuno sanctuary and an additional 900 sq km of buffer zone, the Gujarat government is still not prepared to part with its Asiatic lions. Incidentally, both the states are BJP-ruled.

The question of relocation of lions had come from senior Congress MLA from Vijaypur constituency Ram Niwas Rawat but since the latter was absent, Singh pursued the query on his behalf.

The Congress argued that in December last year, a Supreme Court-constituted committee and the Madhya Pradesh government held a meeting, after which the panel found the environment at Palpur-Kuno sanctuary fit for the Asiatic lions.

The MLA alleged that people had to be shifted while their livelihood suffered after agricultural land was acquired for the sanctuary. "People lost their homes and their agricultural land was gone. So, what is the reason that the Gir lions are still not coming to the state?" Singh asked.

Shejwar contended that the matter lies with the Union government and the apex court-appointed committee. "We are just complying with the orders," the minister said.

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