On the occasion of his 72nd birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released eight African cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, nearly 70 years after the big cats were declared extinct in the country.
“It is unfortunate that we declared cheetahs extinct from the country in 1952, but for decades no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them,” PM Modi said during the launch of ‘Project Cheetah’ at Kuno National Park. “Now the country has started to rehabilitate cheetahs with new energy.”
PM Shri @narendramodi‘s address at launch of Project Cheetah at Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh. https://t.co/rai8CbiUen
— BJP (@BJP4India) September 17, 2022
The cheetahs were brought to India from Africa’s Namibia as part of the government’s efforts to revitalise India’s wildlife and habitat. A special cargo plane, carrying the eight cats, landed in Gwalior on Saturday morning. Later they were airlifted to Kuno in an Air Force helicopter.
By protecting nature and the environment, PM Modi said that avenues for “growth and prosperity” would also open up. “When cheetahs run again in Kuno National Park, the grassland ecosystem here will be restored, biodiversity will increase,” he added.
Each cheetah has been made to wear a radio collar so that their movement can be tracked via satellite. PM Modi also thanked the Namibian government for their cooperation in carrying out the project.
“I also thank our friendly country Namibia and the government there for whose cooperation the cheetahs have returned to Indian soil after decades,” he said.
Congress calls Cheeta release ‘tamasha’
Soon after PM Modi released the cheetahs, the Congress called it a “tamasha” orchestrated by the prime minister as another diversion from pressing national issues and the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Congress general secretary and in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh also alleged that the prime minister “hardly ever acknowledges continuity in governance” and the Cheetah project was the latest example of that.
“PM hardly ever acknowledges continuity in governance. Cheetah project going back to my visit to Capetown on 25.04.2010 is the latest example,” Ramesh, who was the Environment and Forest minister during 2009-11, tweeted. “The tamasha orchestrated by PM today is unwarranted and is yet another diversion from pressing national issues and Bharat Jodo Yatra.”