India’s Cheetah project caught into politics

Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi says it is unfortunate that no conscious effort was made to re-introduce wild cats, main opposition Congress party hits back saying the tamasha (drama) orchestrated by premier is unwarranted

Staff Correspondent September 17

The re-introduction of Cheetahs in India has been caught into politics. While Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said it is “unfortunate that no constructive efforts were made” to re-introduce the wild cats in India, the opposition Congress hit back saying the proposal for ‘Project Cheetah’ was made during their government more than a decade ago.

On September 17, Mr. Modi, while releasing the wild cats into the Kuno National park of India’s Madhya Pradesh region, took an aim at the opposition saying no conscious effort was made for the return of the wild cats.

 “It is unfortunate that we declared Cheetahs extinct in the country in 1952, but for decades no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them,” Mr. Modi said in his address. “Today, as we celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the country has started rehabilitating Cheetahs with new energy”.

On September 16, India’s main opposition party Congress took the credit saying the proposal to re-introduce the wild cats in India was made by their government in 2008.

“The proposal for ‘Project Cheetah’ was prepared in 2008-09. Manmohan Singh’s government approved it,” Congress tweeted. “In April 2010, the then Minister of Forest and Environment @Jairam_Ramesh went to the Cheetah Out Reach Center in Africa. In 2013, the Supreme Court banned the project, in 2020 the ban was lifted. Now the Cheetahs will come”.

The then Forest and Environment Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh hit back at Mr Modi.

“PM (Prime Minister) hardly ever acknowledges continuity in governance. Cheetah project going back to my visit to Capetown on 25.04.2010 is the latest example. The tamasha orchestrated by PM today is unwarranted and is yet another diversion from pressing national issues,” Mr. Ramesh tweeted. “When tigers were first translocated to Panna and Sariska during 2009-11, there were many prophets of doom. They were proved wrong. Similar predictions are being made on the Cheetah project. The professionals involved are first rate and I wish the project very best”.

On September 18, Mr. Ramesh shared the 2009 letter asking the Wildlife Trust of India to prepare a roadmap for the re-introduction of Cheetahs in India and called Mr Modi a “pathological liar.”

“This was the letter that launched Project Cheetah in 2009. Our PM is a pathological liar. I couldn’t lay my hands on this letter yesterday because of my preoccupation…,” Mr Ramesh tweeted. 

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