Forest minister Gaurishankar Shejwar on Sunday claimed that there has been an increase in number of tigers in Madhya Pradesh, but said “it is much difficult to tell the exact number”.
“The number stands at 288, but we cannot ask tigers to stand in a queue to be counted,” said the minister, who expressed helplessness in telling the exact figure when asked about the steps he has taken to restore the status of a tiger state, which has gone to Karnataka.
In reply to a related question, Shejwar said there have been 11 deaths of tigers out of which one fell to the hunters’ prey.
Responding to another question on translocation of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, the forest minister said the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was looking after the plan.
“There has been a speedy approval of development projects on the part of the state and the Central government, particularly after the NDA came to power at the Centre,” he said.
Shejwar said there was a perception that Forest Conservation Act, 1980 put hurdles in the way of the development projects.
However, he added, the fact remained that out of 62 proposals related to development projects regarding irrigation, power, road, railway among others, 40 were cleared by the Centre.
Besides, as many as 108 development projects related proposals were cleared at the divisional forest officer level out of which 91 were in connection with roads.
Shejwar said he was addressing the press conference following chief minister’s instructions to make public the department’s achievements in the past one year and get the feedback from people in general, and media in particular.
He said as many as 8.67 crore saplings were planted out of which 1.46 crore saplings were planted on July 31, 2014. As far as checking of forest crimes was concerned, 751 vehicles and 3,132 cubic metre of wood were seized. To curb crimes committed through water ways, 12 outposts were established to keep a watch on the activities of those worked against forest and wildlife, he added.