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Modi Govt Slashes Wildlife Habitat Funding by 47% in 3 Years: Report

The funds allocated for Project Tiger and Project Elephant were cut by 40% and 16% respectively from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
Modi Govt Slashes Wildlife Habitat Funding by 47%  in 3 Years: Report

Patna: Contrary to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s much-hyped wildlife conservation efforts, the funding for the ministry of environment, forest and climate change’s development of wildlife habitat in 34 states and Union Territories has been reduced by 47% from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

According to Down to Earth’s ‘State of India’s Environment 2022’ report, released by the Centre for Science and Environment earlier this month, the funding was reduced from Rs 165 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 124.5 crore in 2019-20 and further to Rs 87.6 crore by 2020-21.

There is a clear sign of a reduction in funds allocated for wildlife conservation schemes despite poaching remaining a rampant and big challenge.

The funds allocated for Project Tiger, implemented in 19 states, were reduced by around 40% from Rs 323.2 crore in 2018-19, to Rs 281.8 crore in 2019-20 and further Rs 194.5 crore in 2020-21, according to the report—579 tigers were killed from 2005 to 2021 with 31 in 2020 and another 50 in 2021.

The figures on the killing of leopards are the most shocking with 2,639 killed in 15 years from 2005 to 2021, the report stated. Leopard hunting reportedly increased in the last two years with 170 killed in 2020 and another 173 in 2021.

The funding for Project Elephant, in 22 states, was cut as well by 16% from Rs 29.1 crore in 2018-19, Rs 28 crore in 2019-20 and finally to Rs 24 crore in 2020-21—about 696 elephants were killed from 2014-15 to 2020-21.

The report also mentioned an alarming increase of 78% in the number of environmental crimes in 2019-20 with courts disposing of such cases at a rate much lower than the increase in such incidents.

A whopping 61,767 environment-related offences under the violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, the Environment (Protection) Act, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and other such laws were registered in 2020. Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh account for 90% of environmental crimes.

Poaching and smuggling of wildlife body parts pose a serious threat to conservation efforts. The report mentioned that globally, legal wildlife trade has increased more than five-fold in value in the last 14 years and is estimated to be worth $107 billion in 2019—5-12 times the value of illegal wildlife trade.

Since 1975, international trade in many wild species has been regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a multilateral treaty with 183 signatories that provides a mechanism to regulate the legal trade of about 36,000 species of animals and plants.

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