The Environment Ministry's ambitious plan to re-introduce Cheetah in Rajasthan has hit a roadblock because of protest by locals after "disinformation campaign" and the peeved Minister Jairam Ramesh has now decided to shift the project to Madhya Pradesh.
Cheetah, the only mammal to become extinct in India in last 1000 years, will be brought from South Africa and 12 of them will be introduced in Madhya Pradesh.
Ramesh told PTI on Tuesday that the locals were being fed with wrong information about the project by a leading oil and gas exploration company.
"A company called Focus Energy Ltd, which is engaging in oil and gas exploration in the region, has done a lot of disinformation campaign and lot of people have become very restive about this issue," said the Minister.
A reaction from the company could not be obtained as repeated efforts to reach the spokesman did not fructify.
Ramesh said he felt Jaisalmer was the best site suited for re-introduction of the fastest animal but the Rajasthan Government was not agreeing because of protest by local people.
"This particular company called Focus Energy has played..., they have tried to whip up sentiments," the Union Minister alleged.
He said he tried to explain to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot that the oil and gas exploration can be done even if Cheetah is introduced there and the area will not be declared as a national park or a sanctuary.
"But he (Gehlot) is a little hesitant because of lot of local political opposition to it," said Ramesh who visited the state last week in an effort to persuade the government there.
Now, Madhya Pradesh is going to be the first option as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has given a "commitment" and is "very very keen" on project, the Environment Minister said.
"Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctury in Madhya Pradesh has been identified... It looks easy to start Madhya Pradesh first," Ramesh said even as he has "not given up hope" on Rajasthan.
"We were hoping that we would be able to do it in two years," he said.
Cheatah contributes towards the conservation of the dryland ecosystems that it inhabits. The word cheetah comes from Sanskrit word 'chitrakam', which means spots.