India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on April 15, 2015, “has a long tradition of living in harmony with nature”.

Prime Minister said the people of India have been the protectors and devotees of nature. He said we need to project this fact properly, so that the world realizes that India cannot be questioned in this regard.

The tiger is an Indian success story — or so Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar said, earlier in January while referring to the latest figures, which showed that the tiger population in Indian forests had grown from 1411 in 2006 to 1706 in 2010, and 2226 per the latest figures released at the start of the year — which means India has around 70% of the world’s tiger population. Such joy!

“This increase in tiger population is a testimony of the success of various measures adopted by the government,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said in statement. “These measures relate to Special Tiger Protection Force, Special Programme for Orphan Tiger cubs, efforts to control poaching and initiatives to minimise human-animal conflict and encroachment.”

Javadekar was careful to avoid mentioning which government he was referring to, though. The MoE however has not been heard on a more recent news item — the gutting of funds for Project Tiger. A report from Karnataka:

Take for instance the much vaunted Project Tiger, which seeks to conserve the environs housing 406 enumerated big cats in the State. Compared to 2014, four reserves have seen a cumulative dip of nearly 20 per cent in the recent allocations by National Tiger Conservation Authority. The budget for Bandipur Tiger Reserve has not yet come, but officials expect it to be similarly cut.

Forest officials said the first hints of deficient resources were seen in the Union Government budget in February, when allocation for the nation-wide Project Tiger was reduced by 15 per cent to Rs. 136.46 crore.

The report, while brief, is illuminative of the systematic gutting of Central funds for environmental/wildlife purposes. Read that in tandem with this analysis of the government’s moves to dilute the Forest Act and this Quartz report that examines the cumulative impact of the Center’s various bills that impact the environment- and wildlife-related issues.

In an extended ‘open letter’ to the Prime Minister, Sanctuary Asia’s editor Bittu Sahgal says:

We have not heard you speak on television in the lead up to the elections on the issue of wildlife, nature conservation and climate change; however your Gujarat officials point to the success of the Gir Lion Project as evidence of your determination and ability to protect wild nature. Undoubtedly, if you do for the tiger what you did for the lion, Panthera tigris will be safe. But for this welcome event to take place, your advisors, those who financed your campaign and those who have access to you on a daily basis, need to be viscerally convinced that there can be no profit in waging war against nature for short-term economic gain.

As they say in officialese, we await developments.

(The image used in this post is courtesy hdwallpapers.com)