One day after union forest and environment minister Prakash Javadekar for giving full marks to the Centre for rise of rhino population in Assam and two other states, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday asked why the same government at the Centre had failed to arrest dwindling of lion population in Gujarat.
“If the Union Government is so eager in claiming the credits, it (Centre) should also own the discredit for its alleged failure in checking the dwindling population of Asiatic lions in Gir forest in Gujarat,” Gogoi said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.
Gogoi, who attributed the rise in rhino population in Assam due to the conservation efforts initiated by the state government, described the decrease in lion population in Gujarat as a failure of the BJP governments at the Centre and in Gujarat.
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“Rise in death of Asiatic lions has posed a threat to the very existence of wild cats which are found only in Gujarat. When Gujarat is considered as one of the favourite dens of the saffron party, the failure of the BJP government both in the state and at the Centre in saving the lives of Asiatic lions casts doubts on the sincerity of the government in its wildlife conservation efforts,” Gogoi said.
“In the last five years over 300 lion deaths were reported in Gujarat, which makes a mockery of the conservation efforts of the Centre and the state government in Gujarat,” Gogoi said. Citing official statistics, the Assam chief minister said that while 76 lion deaths were reported in 2013 in Gujarat, the figure had jumped to 78 in 2014, and to 91 in 2015.
Union forest and environment minister Javadekar had on Monday informed Rajya Sabha that while the rhino population in Assam had gone up from 2,505 in 2012 to 2,624 in 2015, in West Bengal it rose from 229 in 2013 to 225 in 2015. Uttar Pradesh on the other hand ha recorded 34 rhinos in 2015, he said.
This increase, Javadekar had said, was mainly due to a series of initiatives taken by the Centre, the most important being creation of Protected Areas all over the country under the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 to conserve wild animals and their habitats. Most of the rhino habitats are part of Tiger Reserves at Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, Manas Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Jaldapara Tiger Reserve, Javadekar had said.