Weeks before India’s environment ministry gave permission for 130 sq km of tropical forests to be cleared to make way for development projects on the Great Nicobar Island in the Indian Ocean, the chief minister of Haryana, a landlocked state 2,400 km away, was already announcing plans for how the money raised from the deforestation would be used.
Speaking to reporters on October 6, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the funds would be used to build “the world’s largest curated safari”. Ten thousand acres of land, not too far from the national capital, had already been identified for the project, he said: “6,000 acres from Gurguram district and 4,000 from Nuh.”
The safari would feature ten zones, one each for reptiles, birds, underwater species, exotic animals, a nature trail, and a botanical garden. Along with tigers, lions and panthers, it would also house cheetahs, the chief minister said, adding that efforts were underway to source the world’s fastest animals.
The press conference was held weeks after the Prime Minister had released cheetahs from Namibia in a national park in Madhya Pradesh, and days after Khattar had returned from a trip to the Sharjah Safari Park in the United Arab Emirates with India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav….