MP CM’s white (tiger) lie
Posted April 13, 2016on:
Prakash Javadekar has never displayed any spark of brilliance — neither as Union Minister of Environment and Forests nor, before that, as BJP spokesperson. But his IQ showed a new low when he allowed himself to be taken for a ride by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and agreed to inaugurate what Chouhan touts as the ‘world’s first white tiger safari’ though it is not even India’s first white tiger safari.
India’s first white tiger safari was started on October 1,1991 at Nandankanan Zoological Park in Odisha. The Statesman has quoted Nandankanan Park director Dr Sudarsan Panda as saying; ‘our white tiger safari was the first white tiger safari in the world and it is still continuing’. Nandankanan Park has at present eight white tigers. It was surprising that Javadekar did not know this, even though it is the subject-matter of the ministry he has been put in charge of.
In contrast to eight white tigers in Nandankanan Park, there are only three – one male Raghu and two females Radha and Vindhya — in Mukundpur in Satna district where Javadekar inaugurated Chouhan’s Rs 50-crore lie. That is the amount the Madhya Pradesh chief minister has allocated for the development of the 25-hectare sanctuary at Mukundpur, about 20 kms from Rewa. The chief minister promised more money if the need be. Besides, the State government has spent crores and crores of rupees on advertising the inauguration of the ‘world’s first white tiger safari’.
Rewa has old connection with white tiger. The first white tiger, considered a rare breed of the big cat, was spotted in the Vindhya (Rewa) region in 1915. It was said to have died in 1920. Three decades later the ruler of Rewa State, Maharaja Martand Singh, captured a cub of white tiger and named it Mohan. The Maharaja created conditions for its breeding and Mohan became progenitor of white tigers in the region. Rewa has later come to be so much identified with white tiger that any old patriarch with white hair is still referred to as the white tiger of Rewa.
According to Martand Singh’s son Pushpraj Singh, Mohan had become almost a family member. He says that Mohan’s cubs were distributed to the zoos in India and abroad so that the number of white tigers could grow. Ironically, white tiger disappeared from Rewa completely by 1976. The forest area at present has, besides the three white tigers, two Bengal tigers of normal colour and some bears.
The inauguration of Chouhan’s fraudulent ‘world’s first tiger safari’ was a pompous affair with two Union ministers and several State ministers present. Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was the other Union ministers present to grace the occasion. The chief minister said the white tiger safari would ‘restore the glory’ of the Vindhya region, generate employment avenues and boost tourism.
Javadekar congratulated the chief minister for fulfilling the ‘dream of the people of Madhya Pradesh’. He announced that the leaders from more than a dozen countries where white tigers are available in zoos would be invited for a conference which would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, allegations of misappropriation of money allocated for the ‘world’s first white tiger safari’ were heard in the recently concluded budget session of Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Looking at the record of his decade-old tenure as chief minister, it will be a surprise if he starts a project and there is no scam.