The Planning Commission has approved Rs 262.36 crore to expand the home of the Asiatic lion in Gir, which is its only habitat in the world. The project, Greater Gir, was envisaged by Gujarat government for conservation of the Asiatic lion. This was revealed by Union minister of forest and environment Jairam Ramesh in Lok Sabha recently. The funds would be released to the state government over a period of five years.
The project was taken up under the Centrally-sponsored Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) scheme. Sources said since 90 per cent of the fund was to be provided to the state, the Central government has requested the Planning Commission to make allocation for the same. Replying to a question by Ahmedabad (east) MP Harin Pathak in the LS, Ramesh said Gujarat government had submitted a project for consolidating long-term conservation of Asiatic lion in the greater Gir region. The project was for Rs 236.17 crore. Ramesh said the forest ministry has requested the Planning Commission to provide additional funds under IDWH, which had been approved in principle.
This project will cover building of a protected lion corridor, tagging of lions, GPS mapping and creating sanctuaries in Palitana (Bhavnagar) and Barda Dungar (Porbandar), outside the 1,400 sq km of Gir National Park, from where lions were seen moving out. The lion population now stands at 411.