Sunday, June 25, 2017

When Indira Gandhi Was Livid With Minister's Plan To Buy Aircraft

New Delhi: When Karan Singh proposed a plan to buy an aircraft in 1973 for use by Project Tiger officials, it was shot down by a livid Indira Gandhi who asked him, "Have we got our priorities wrong?" This incident that took place May 1973, barely a month after the launch of Project Tiger, finds mention in Congress leader Jairam Ramesh's new book, "Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature".

Project Tiger was formally launched at the Corbett National Park. Karan Singh, who was the then Union minister for tourism and civil aviation, was made the chairman of the Indian Board for Wildlife.
"The Prime Minister personally handpicked Kailash Sankhala as the first director of Project Tiger despite the fact that he was not popular in the forest bureaucracy and many were irked by his working style and actions," says Mr Ramesh, a former environment minister during UPA-II.
He says that soon there was a mini-crisis confronting Project Tiger. "Moni Malhoutra, Indira Gandhi's key aide for environmental matters, discovered that Rs. 20 lakh raised by World Wildlife Fund was about to be spent on an aircraft for use by the Project Tiger officials. Ms Gandhi was livid and wrote a letter to her ministerial colleague on May 25," he wrote in the book.
Mr Ramesh quotes Indira as writing in the letter, "I understand that the money which the World Wildlife Fund has raised so far for Project Tiger is being used to purchase a small airplane. Have we got our priorities wrong? I should have thought it is more important to get the project going on the ground than to spend so much money on an aircraft which will yield no direct benefit to the parks and their animals. An aeroplane would be "a luxury which we can ill-afford."
25/06/17 PTI/NDTV