India; Politician advocates for lion safari park in his state

UP CM wants lion safari for Saifai
Dhananjay Mahapatra
[ 16 Sep, 2006 2353hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav continues to pamper his constituency of Saifai.

After having rewarded his pocketborough with a sports complex, an airstrip and entertainment extravaganza featuring Bollywood biggies, he wants to dole out another gift to the constituency for standing steadfast behind him, but has run into an obstacle in the form of a guideline laid down by the Supreme Court.

To give shape to his dream ‘lion safari’ project, the UP government has to comply with the November 27, 2000, order of the Supreme Court, which said: “No state government or Union territory shall set up a new zoo without getting clearance from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and orders from this court.”

In an application seeking the SC’s permission, the state said except for zoos at Lucknow and Kanpur, western and eastern UP had no zoo, depriving a vast population an opportunity to learn and educate themselves about wildlife protection and conservation.

To correct this, the state government wishes to open a lion safari, which it described as a special kind of zoo, in the Fischer forest area of Etawah district.

To buttress its arguments for a lion safari, the state, in its application moved through advocate Wasim A Qadri, expressed concern about the dwindling numbers of Asiatic lions, facing “serious threat of survival”.

It narrated how these royal beasts were found roaming in south-western Asia and northern India just 200 years ago and are now confined to a small pocket in the Gir reserved forest of Gujarat.

“In view of this and the importance of the role of zoos and safaris in terms of conservation education, a lion safari park in an area of 150 hectares in the Fischer forest is being conceived,”the application said.

On the selection of Etawah district for the proposal, the government said, “There is a remarkable similarity of temperature and humidity, vegetation, ruggedness of the terrain etc between the selected area and the Gir protected area.”

After justifying Etawah’s suitability, the state explained its seriousness about the project by pointing out that a budgetary allocation of Rs 1.04 crore has already been made in this financial year towards the lion safari, which is estimated to cost Rs 5.6 crore.

The state also placed before the apex court its communication to CZA seeking permission to set up the safar

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