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Madhya Pradesh pitches hard for shifting Asiatic lions from Gujarat

Delhi,Environment/Wildlife, Mon, 16 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government Monday said Gujarat's opposition to the translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir forests should be rejected because the state has already done the preparations to house the big cats in Kunopal sanctuary.


Appearing for the Madhya Pradesh government, counsel Vibha Makhija told the Supreme Court's forest bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and C.K. Prasad that funds have already been spent on making the Kunopal sanctuary habitable for the Asiatic lions as per the project conceived in 1992.


Makhija said Uttar Prasdesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were chosen to identify the sanctuary and it was Kunopal sanctuary that was finally identified for translocation of the lion.


The Gujarat government earlier this month told the Supreme Court that it could not consent to the shifting of its Asiatic lions from Gir forests as there was no proper study on translocation of the big cats.


The apex court was told that "Gujarat's objection to the translocation can't be permitted".


"All experts have agreed to the desirability and urgency of the project. It is not a national but an international project."


Justice Prasad said it was not the "desirability" but the "necessity".


The move to shift some of the Asiatic lions from Gir forest was made by the wild life experts fearing that the entire lion population would get extinct because of some genetic, environmental reasons or outbreak of an epidemic.


The Madhya Pradesh counsel said that for preparing Kunopal sanctuary, 24 villages have already been shifted.


On the availability of the water bodies, the court was told that there were several of them and Kuno river flowed through the sanctuary that constantly recharges water bowls.


Makhija disputed the Gujarat government argument on the competence and will of Madhya Pradesh to protect and nurture the wild beast and said tigers that were once lost in the area were now flourishing in Panna tiger reserve.


The arguments will continue April 23.


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