Govt seeks SC review of tiger tourism ban

Govt seeks SC review of tiger tourism ban

The Centre on Tuesday reversed its stand and requested the Supreme Court to review its earlier order banning tourism activities in core areas of  tiger reserves in the country.

Almost a month after the apex court’s order, the Ministry of Environment and Forest, along with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, conveyed to the court concerns expressed by different States on the issue of livelihood of the local people.

 “State governments have expressed concern that many local people depend on tourism for their livelihood and hence the stoppage of tourism in core areas of tiger reserves would result in loss of such income leading to discontent which may be a threat to wildlife and forests,” the government said in an affidavit.

It further claimed that banning the tourism would also result in depriving citizens of an opportunity to appreciate India's national heritage.

The government submitted that it wanted to review its existing guidelines pertaining to eco-tourism in and around protected areas after a wide consultation with all stakeholders, including state governments and representatives of local and indigenous communities.

“The respondents may be permitted to further review the guidelines and conduct more consultations with all stakeholders including state governments and representatives of local indigenous communities, besides reviewing the process adopted by states in notifying the buffer areas of tiger reserves,” read the affidavit.

“Representation from some states who own the land and have pointed out that they would like to give input and suggestions in this regard have been received in the context of the interim order issued by the Hon’ble Court to stop tourism in the core areas of tiger reserves,” it said.

The apex court had on July 24 banned any tourism activities in core areas of all tiger reserves saying that till further orders, no tourists should venture into core zones of 41 tigers reserves. “Whatever may be the statistics or data by different agencies, the fact of the matter is tigers are on the verge of extinction,” the court said, highlighting the threat posed to the endangered species.

The number of tigers in the country is estimated to be around 1,700. The core zone is critical tiger habitat notified by the government where no human activity is allowed. Tiger breeding takes place in the core areas which are to be kept free of any human activities, including tourism. The court order had come on a PIL filed by Bhopal-based activist Ajay Dubey seeking direction to remove all commercial tourism activities from core areas in the tiger reserves.

According to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the states are to notify the list of core and buffer areas of tiger reserves. The buffer zone is constituted upto a distance of 10 kms of the core zone.

The NTCA of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had on July 9 submitted draft guidelines, which would be examined by the apex court on August 22.

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