Tiger tourism ban: SC raps Centre for U-turn

Tiger tourism ban: SC raps Centre for U-turn

The Centre on Wednesday found itself in a spot for seeking a review of a apex court order banning tourism in core tiger reserve areas.

Expressing its concern over the dwindling tiger population, a bench of Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar pulled up the government for its ambiguous stance on the issue and asked, "Why did you initially recommend the ban?"

The bench sought to know why the Centre had issued the guidelines mooting a ban on tourism in the tiger reserve areas and asked counsel about the government steps taken to protect tigers.

Almost a month after the Supreme Court in its interim order banned tourism in 41 tiger reserve areas, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and National Tiger Conservation Authority on Tuesday said the state governments had complained that the new rule would affect the people whose livelihood was dependent on tourism.

At the hearing, even as Advocate Wasim A Quadri mentioned Centre's affidavit seeking a review of the court's interim order, the bench snapped: “What have you done for the tiger project? What about the core areas you have promised to (protect)? The Union of India has not done anything except filing  affidavits.”

“We want to know on what basis you prepared the guidelines? What is the data available? What are you going to do to save  tigers? Earlier (tiger population) was 13,000, now it has come down to 1,200,” the apex court asked and said, “You are more worried about the commercial activities.”

Refusing to interfere with the ban order, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 29.

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