My cabinet colleagues Shri Prakash Javadekar JI, Shri Babul Supriyo Ji, all other great dignitaries present here. At the outset, I greet you all on Global Tiger Day.
This year's Global Tiger Day is also special because India has made a historic achievement. For this achievement, I congratulate you all, the wildlife lovers around the world, every officer associated with this mission, every employee and especially our tribal brothers and sisters living in the forested areas.
Today, on Global Tiger Day, we re-affirm our commitment towards protecting the tiger. The results of the just declared tiger census would make every Indian, every nature lover happy. Nine long years ago, it was decided in Saint Petersburg, that the target of doubling the tiger population would be 2022. We in India completed this target four years early. The speed and dedication with which various stake-holders worked to achieve this is remarkable. This is one of the finest examples of 'Sankalp se Siddhi' i.e. achievement through resolve. Once the people of India decide to do something, there is no force that can prevent them from getting the desired results.
Friends, I remember that 14-15 years ago when these figures had come out that showed that only 1400 tigers remained in the country, it became a matter of big debate and a cause for serious concern. This was a great challenge for everyone associated with the Tiger Project. There was a very challenging task before us of providing a suitable environment for the tigers balancing with the human population. But the way in which this mission was carried forward with sensitivity and modern technology, is highly commendable.
Today we can proudly say that India is one of the world's largest and most secure habitats with about 3000 tigers. Around three-fourths of the world's population of tiger is found in our country.
Many of you here also know this well that the campaign to enrich the Wild Life eco-system is not limited to Tigers only. The conservation programme of Asiatic Lions found in the forests of Gir in Gujarat and the Snow Leopards is going on at a rapid pace. In fact the positive results of the work going on in the Gir forests are clearly visible. The number of tigers there has increased by 27 per cent. I am happy that the benefits of India's best practices are also being received by other friendly countries of Tiger Range.
Today, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has entered into an agreement with five countries including China and Russia and soon the agreement with other countries will also be finalized. Guatemala is also seeking technical help from us for the Jaguar Conservation there. Well, it is also interesting to note that Tiger is a symbol of faith not just in India but in many other countries. Apart from India, Malaysia and Bangladesh have their national animal as tiger. In Chinese culture, the Tiger Year is celebrated. That is, in one sense, any initiative related to Tiger, affect several countries in many ways.
Human empowerment is incomplete without a better environment. And so, the way ahead is in collectiveness instead of selectiveness. We need to take a broad-based and holistic look at environmental conservation.
There are several plants and animals out there that need our help. What is it that we can do, either through technology or human action, to give them a fresh lease of life so that they can add beauty and diversity to our planet? Also, there is a very old debate - development or environment. And, both sides present views as if each is mutually exclusive.
But we have to accept coexistence and also understand the importance of moving together. I feel it is possible. And in our country, we have been taught co-existence for thousands of years. Our ancestors have imagined God and have an example of co-existence in it. This is a Monday of the Sawan Month. There is a snake dangling from Shivji's neck while the vehicle of Ganesha who is from the same family is Rat. Snake eats rats but Lord Shiva gives out the message of coexistence in his family. Here, gods and goddesses are associated with animals, birds or plants.
In our policies, in our economics, we have to change the conversation about conservation. We have to be both, smart and sensitive, and create a healthy balance of environmental sustainability and economic growth.
India will prosper both economically and environmentally. India will build more roads and India will have cleaner rivers. India will have better train connectivity and also greater tree coverage. India will build more homes for our citizens and at the same time create quality habitats for animals. India will have a vibrant marine economy and a healthier marine ecology. This balance is what will contribute to a strong and inclusive India.
During the last five years, on one hand, the country has been working rapidly for the Next Generation Infrastructure while on the other hand the Forest Cover is also growing in India. In addition, the number of protected areas in the country has also increased. In 2014, the number of Protected Areas in India was 692, which has now increased to more than 860 in 2019. At the same time, the number of Community Reserves has increased from about 43 in 2014 to now almost 100.
The increase in the number of tigers and protected areas is not merely statistics. It will highly impact tourism and means of employment. I had read somewhere that lakhs of tourists from within the country and abroad used to throng the place just to see the famous tigress 'Machhli' of Ranthambore. Therefore, with the protection of tigers, we are also focusing on the creation of environmentally sustainable eco-tourism infrastructure.
All the efforts taken by India to protect the environment have made us the Global Front Runner of Climate Action. Before the year 2020, India has already achieved all the targets for Emission Intensity of GDP. India is one of the top countries in the world which is engaged in making its Economy Clean-Fuel-based and Renewable-Energy-based. We are making Waste and Bio-mass an important part of energy security.
Besides, the work on electric mobility, biofuels and smart city are beneficial for the environment. At the same time through the International Solar Alliance (ISA), we are playing an important role in connecting many countries of the world with Solar Power. Now our goal should be: One World, One Sun, and One Grid.
Schemes like Ujjwala and Ujala are making the daily life of the country easier, and are also beneficial to the environment. By providing an LPG connection to every family in the country, we have been successful in protecting the trees from being felled. The campaign of lacing every house, every building and every road with LED bulbs is not only saving electricity but also reducing carbon Emissions. And the electricity bills of the middle class families are also reduced. They have financially benefitted.
Today India is recognized as one of the countries of the world that fulfil all the resolutions taken in their interest and the interest of the world. I am confident that India will be leading the world in achieving Poverty Elimination and Sustainable Development Goals. Due to such efforts today, India is identified among the countries of the world that fulfil all the resolutions taken in their interest and the interest of the world.
As we celebrate the numbers today, we have to realize that these majestic animals are facing dire challenges from an ever decreasing and disturbed habitat and illegal trade and traffic. India is committed to doing whatever it can to further animal protection and conservation.
I would request heads of government of the Tiger Range Countries, and bring them together in an Alliance of Global Leaders to erase demand and to firmly curb poaching and illegal trade in Asia. Let me once again congratulate you on this World Tiger Day.
Let us all pledge to create a green and environmentally sustainable country. Let the tiger be that symbol of sustainability.
I would like to tell the people associated with this field that the story which began with 'Ek Tha Tiger' and ended with 'Tiger Zinda Hai' must not stop there. Earlier people from the film industry used to sing 'Bagon me bahar Hai'; now Suprio ji will sing 'Baghon me bahar Hai'.
Those efforts which are related to Tiger Conservation should be further expanded and expedited.
With this hope, with the same conviction, once again I congratulate all of you. My best wishes to you all!