Gujarat government to file review plea against lion shifting today
Ajay Umat & Himanshu Kaushik, TNN | May 14, 2013, 04.43 AM IST
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government will file a review petition on Tuesday to stop Gir lions from being translocated to Madhya Pradesh.
Officials are set to file a review petition against the Supreme Court's April 15 order which said some Lions should be sent to the neighbouring state's Palpur Kuno Sanctuary.
An important technical ground that the government will raise is that the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, have been violated. The act says that no translocation process can be started without the permission of the chief wildlife warden of the state where he animal belongs. The permission has to be sought even if one animal has to be shifted for research. The Gujarat government alleges that no such permission was sought and yet the Madhya Pradesh government had started investing in Palpur Kuno.
This would be the second such plea in the apex court after Congress MLA from Manavadar Jawahar Chavda filed a petition on similar grounds a week ago. Both petitions underline the dangers to the lions in Madhya Pradesh including rampant poaching.
The state government's petition covers about a dozen issues, and says that the fear of epidemic in Gir's lions is imaginary. The cats are not critically endangered species, it says. It adds that Madhya Pradesh has no clear roadmap for translocation.
The has also stated that the lions has dispersed to a much larger area outside Gir covering 10,000 sq km and is found in seven different natural pockets in the state.
Top forest officials have included in the petition the fact that the gene pool of Gir lions has improved and not deteriorated as suggested in the project report for translocation. Gujarat forest officials will quote the study 'Genetic variation in Asiatic lions and Indian tigers' jointly conducted by the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad; Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata; and Center for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad.
Besides, the government says that opinion of independent experts have not been taken into account by the court. Many of those whose opinions were considered were a part of the translocation process.
Questioning Madhya Pradesh's claim that there is enough prey for the lions in Palpur Kuno, that plea says, "There is no cogent explanation why the population of prey at Kuno as recorded by Raman showed an unnatural, dramatic increase in numbers. The flaws and limitations in the Cheetah Task Force Report 2011 have been highlighted by (Ravi) Chellam in his note and are not repeated here."