'Project Cheetah' proposal was prepared in 2008-09, approved by Manmohan Singh govt: Congress

The cheetahs that would be released are from Namibia and have been brought under an MoU signed earlier this year.

September 16, 2022 07:16 pm | Updated September 17, 2022 06:06 pm IST - New Delhi

This file photo taken on February 18, 2016 shows a captive cheetah with her sibling in an enclosure at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. File

This file photo taken on February 18, 2016 shows a captive cheetah with her sibling in an enclosure at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. File | Photo Credit: AFP

A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases eight cheetahs brought from Namibia in a Madhya Pradesh national park, the Congress said Friday the proposal for 'Project Cheetah' was prepared in 2008-09 and approved by the then Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.

The opposition party also said that in 2013, the Supreme Court had stayed the project, and in 2020, the apex court allowed it, paving the way for the cheetahs to come to India.

"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.

In 2013, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the Cheetah Reintroduction Programme and in 2020 allowed it, the party said, adding that now the cheetahs are coming.

The Congress also tweeted a picture of Mr. Ramesh at the Cheetah Outreach Centre in South Africa in 2010.

In a tweet, Mr. Ramesh shared an article 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, Mr. Ramesh also talked about his visit to the Cheetah Outreach Centre in Cape Town and the efforts under the programme back then.

The cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952. The cheetahs that would be released are from Namibia and have been brought under an MoU signed earlier this year.

Prime Minister Modi will visit Madhya Pradesh on September 17 and at around 10:45 a.m. he will release the cheetahs in the Kuno National Park, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

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, the statement said.

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