Congress Claims Credit for ‘Project Cheetah’, Says UPA Govt Greenlit Plan Prepared in 2008-09

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Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inauguration of the inter-continental cheetah translocation project in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress on Friday claimed the proposal for ‘Project Cheetah’ was approved by the then Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in 2008-09.

“The proposal for ‘Project Cheetah’ was prepared in 2008-09. Manmohan Singh’s government gave approval to it. The then Forest and Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, went to Cheetah outreach centre in South Africa in April 2010,” the Congress said in a tweet with a picture of the senior party leader holding a cheetah.

The party claimed the Supreme Court had stayed the Cheetah Reintroduction Programme in 2013 and the apex court allowed it in 2020, paving way for the carnivore translocation project ‘Project Cheetah’.

Earlier in the day, Ramesh shared an article on Twitter that he had written in a daily a few weeks ago that gave a history of why and how today’s event of the cheetah’s arrival in India was made possible. In his piece, Ramesh had also talked about his visit to the Cheetah Outreach Centre in Cape Town and the efforts under the programme back then.

In a boost to the country’s wildlife, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to release eight cheetahs — five females and three males — brought from Namibia at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on his birthday on September 17 at around 10:45 AM.

The cheetah is the only large carnivore which was completely wiped out from India due to its use for coursing, sport hunting, overhunting and habitat loss. The government declared the animal extinct in 1952. The cheetahs that would be released are from Namibia and have been brought under an MoU signed earlier this year. “The release of the wild cheetahs by the prime minister in Kuno National Park is part of his efforts to revitalise and diversify India’s wildlife and its habitat,” a statement by the PMO said.

Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav welcomed the move and said India is undoing an ecological wrong by bringing back the cheetah which became extinct in the country due to overhunting. “India is one of those countries which believe in undoing ecological wrongs. A mistake should be rectified. Cheetahs became extinct in India due to overhunting. We have decided to bring the large carnivore back. This ecological wrong is being undone,” Yadav said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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