India of the 21st century is giving a message to the world that economy and ecology are not conflicting fields, the PM asserted. “India is living and breathing example that economic progress of the country can take place along with protecting the environment. Today, on one hand, we are included among the fastest-growing economies of the world, and at the same time the forest areas of the country are expanding rapidly,” he added.
In past centuries, exploitation of nature was considered to be a symbol of power and modernity, he remarked. “In 1947, only three cheetahs were left in the country, and they too were hunted mercilessly and irresponsibly in the Sal forests,” the PM said, adding that the cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952, and no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them for about seven decades.
He expressed elation that in Azadi Ka Amritkaal, the country has started to rehabilitate cheetahs with new energy. “Amrit has the power to revive even the dead. This elixir of duty and faith in Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is not just reviving our heritage, but now cheetahs have also set foot on Indian soil,” he said.
Cheetahs are found in some countries of Africa and in Iran but India’s name was removed from that list long ago. “Children will not have to go through this irony in the years to come. I am sure they will be able to see the cheetah running in their own country — in Kuno National Park. Today a big void in our forest and life is being filled through the cheetah,” Modi said.
“We will have to show patience, wait for a few months to see the cheetahs released at Kuno. Today these cheetahs have come as guests, unfamiliar with the area. For these cheetahs to be able to make Kuno their home, we will have to give them a few months’ time,” the PM said, stressing that international guidelines are being followed in this massive project. “When cheetahs sprint in Kuno, the grassland ecosystem will be restored and it will lead to an increase in biodiversity. Employment opportunities will increase as a result of growing eco-tourism in the area, thereby opening up new possibilities for development,” he said.