‘MOEF working on transfer of lions to MP’ | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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‘MOEF working on transfer of lions to MP’

Union minister of state for environment and forests Anil Madhav Dave on Saturday said Madhya Pradesh will get Asiatic lions from Gujarat government for the reintroduction project of the big cats in the state’s Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary.

bhopal Updated: Aug 21, 2016 21:29 IST
Lion cubs at Gir
Lion cubs at Gir(File photo)

Union minister of state for environment and forests Anil Madhav Dave on Saturday said Madhya Pradesh will get Asiatic lions from Gujarat government for the reintroduction project of the big cats in the state’s Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary.

Speaking at a press conference, Dave said nearly 80% work for reintroduction project of lions in MP was complete, adding that his ministry was working to complete the modalities for the translocation project.

He, however, didn’t give a time frame for the translocation of the lions to the state.

“Two meetings have already been convened on the project. My aim is to translocate lions to MP and I am working on it. But I can’t give any time frame. Without much hype or taking credit for it, you will see lions arriving in the state someday,” the minister said.

As Asiatic lions present in the wild live only in the Gir sanctuary, experts have often expressed apprehensions that a high rate of inbreeding could make them susceptible to epidemics and make them extinct. In 1993, the Wildlife Institute of India conducted a study to identify the best area for translocation of lions and they found Kuno-Palpur in Sheopur district, around 140 km from Gwalior, most suitable.

A proposal was mooted to translocate a few of the Gir lions to MP in 2000. Wildlife activist Fayaz Khudsar filed a public interest petition in the apex court in 2006 and sought translocation of Gir lions to MP. In April 2013, the apex court in a judgment directed that the lions be translocated to MP. But that has not happened yet.

Asked about his take on diamond giant Rio Tinto deciding to close its project in Chhatarpur, Dave said a Rio Tinto official told him that it was a policy decision taken by their headquarter and had nothing to do with the MP government or the Central government. “Rio Tinto is a big global company. This was a small project for them. However I was ready to meet their officials and address their concerns. We cleared all files related to the project, but if some technical concerns remained, they have to be addressed,” he said.

Security protocol for PM a must

Dave, speaking on the National Green Tribunal’s notice to him over the cutting of trees during the Simhastha conference, said that the decision was taken keeping in mind that prime minister Narendra Modi was to land in the area via helicopter and the move was precipitated by security protocol.

“We did what was required for the security of the prime minister. What should have we done? We have already lost one PM — Rajiv Gandhi — due to security issues. I have spoken to the chief secretary, who is replying to the NGT’s notice. My name in the list to whom notices have been served is at last”, he said.