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Gujarat government blamed for delay in transfer of lions (Oct)

The New Indian Express , Friday, October 11, 2013

Despite the six-month deadline set by the Supreme court for shifting the Asiatic Lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh expiring last month, the prospect of seeing the majestic animals roaming the state’s forests in the foreseeable future appears rather dim.

According to MP Forest Minister Sartaj Singh and senior forest officials, inaction on the part of Gujarat government was the reason for the delay.

“The Gujarat government had raised several objections in the past and some formalities that need to be executed from their side are still remaining. We are waiting for them to take necessary action.It will be difficult to give a definite time-frame as to when the translocation will take place,” he told Express.

The apex court had on April 18 directed the wildlife officials to shift a certain number of lions from Gir in Gujarat to the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in MP and had given six months time to do so. However,the whole process in now caught in a bureaucratic tangle.

Kuno in Sheopur district was chosen by experts from the Wildlife Institute of India as the best place to reintroduce lions in the wild. Gujarat, however, had opposed the move on the grounds that the lions were a matter of state pride and that the animals will not be safe in their new environment.

The SC, while rejecting Gujarat’s objection to the transfer of the lions, had stated that the lion was an endangered species and hence all efforts to prevent its extinction, including translocation should be done.

Moreover, the court had set up a 12-member panel comprising officials from MP, Gujarat and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

MP Principal Chief Conservator of Forest(PCCF) Narendra Kumar, who is a member of the SC constituted committee, said reminders had been sent to the Modi Government. However, nothing came out of it.