'Notify tiger tourism guidelines'

Purpose of the order was to regulate tourism

The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the Centre to notify within one week fresh guidelines framed for conservation of tigers in the country.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said it could modify the July 24 order banning all tourism activities in core areas of the 41 tiger reserves.

The purpose of the order was to regulate tourism in the tiger reserve areas, the court said.

The court told the Centre to notify the comprehensive guidelines for the Project Tiger framed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. “We cannot either validate the guidelines or declare any of the guidelines ultra vires of the Constitution,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the court said it cannot put its seal of approval on the guidelines, which will have to be implemented by the state governments. It, however, said the states can challenge the guidelines.

“Tourism was going unregulated. Now, you want to issue separate guidelines, that’s your power. States are free to challenge them,” the court told Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, appearing for the Union government, who said the Centre was ready to notify the guidelines on Wednesday.

Giving the Centre a week’s time for the purpose, the court posted the matter for further hearing for October 16.

The Centre on September 26 had submitted fresh guidelines before the court, seeking permission to allow tourism in up to 20 per cent of the core tiger reserve areas.

This was in contrast to its previous stand seeking complete ban on tourism in the core areas of the tiger reserves.

As an interim measure, the apex court on July 24 said till further orders, no tourists should venture into the core areas of the 41 tigers reserves.

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