Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday hit out at the government over its handling of the Cheetah reintroduction programme, saying that if science rather than vanity had been put at the forefront of the project "we may not have witnessed the current tragedy".
A male cheetah Suraj, translocated from Africa, died at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh earlier this month, taking the number of cheetahs that have died at the park in Sheopur district since March this year to eight.
Taking to Twitter, Congress general secretary Ramesh shared a media report which claimed that Indian wildlife authorities have imposed a gag order on “all concerned associated” with the cheetah introduction project.
"Stephen J. O' Brien is a distinguished molecular biologist. He is also a dedicated conservationist who uses genetics to protect endangered species. I had spent considerable time with him in 2009 to understand the genetic history of the cheetah. His book makes for fascinating reading," Ramesh said in a tweet.
"If only science had been put at the forefront of the Cheetah reintroduction project in India rather than vanity and showmanship, we may not have witnessed the current tragedy," he said. Instead, the Modi government is busy instituting gag orders on scientists and forest officers, Ramesh alleged.