Over eight cheetahs were flown from Namibia to India where they have gone extinct nearly 70 years ago. The cheetahs were released into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on September 17 marking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.
In a veiled attack against the Congress, Modi lamented that no constructive measure was taken up for the last few decades to reintroduce the big cat to the Indian environment.
The Congress responded to the remark and hit back at the PM with proofs. “Modi is a cheater,” the Congress said.
Congress veteran Jairam Ramesh tweeted that the credit for reintroduction of cheetahs does not go to Modi because the foundation for the project was initiated by the Congress. He even posted the letter relating to Project Cheetah written in 2009 on Twitter.
In the letter, Jairam Ramesh, who was the Union Minister for Environment and Forest then, requested the Wildlife Trust of India to prepare a roadmap to reintroduce cheetahs into the Indian ecosystem. Further, he clarified that he could not post the letter promptly in the public domain as he was pre-occupied with the Bharat Jodo yatra.
In India, cheetahs became extinct in 1952 and it is after 70 years that the felines have been brought to India.
In 2012, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition by the UPA government regarding reintroduction of cheetahs into the country following an argument by wildlife conservationists that it was against the rules of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to import African Cheetahs into India.
In 2017, the National Tiger Conservation Authority submitted an affidavit in the court stating that the IUCN gave its nod to introduce African felines to India as it was legal. Subsequently, the apex court also gave its consent to the project.
The Congress has firmly taken credit for the reintroduction of cheetahs to the Indian forests, by submitting the evidences.
Now, it has to be seen how the BJP would respond to the Congress’ claim.