The Supreme Court on Thursday postponed ruling on the status of its interim ban on tourism in the core areas of tiger reserves, asking stakeholders to submit within three days any objections they might have to the government's new guidelines on the issue. The next hearing is on October 3.
The deferring of the hearing will not impact bookings or cancellations at hotels and lodges in tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh, suggest owners of tourism companies. In fact, hotels and lodge-owners have welcomed the process of finalisation of guidelines on eco-tourism. In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Union ministry of environment and forests recommended regulated tourism activity in 20 per cent of core areas and a ban on construction of new resorts within the critical habitat.
Former MP wildlife board member Shyamendra Singh said that hotel and lodge owners were expecting the ban to be lifted after the hearing on Thursday. "The deferring of the hearing till October 3 will not impact bookings and reservations at tourism amenities since reservations are done much in advance and the cancellations that had to take place, have already taken place," Singh said.
"The court has sought division of parties as petitioner, state governments and interveners and would give each party 30 minutes to state their case," said Siddharth Gupta, counsel for petitioner Ajay Dubey who had sought a ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves.
While tour operators have not taken up bookings in Madhya Pradesh, some cancellations may take place in Rajasthan. Tiger reserves in MP are presently closed till October 15 for the monsoon season. Reserves in Rajasthan were slated to open on October 1.
Shyamendra Singh of Pugdundee Safaris, a wildlife tour company, said, "We are confident that the ban would be lifted after the court finalises the guidelines." Aly Rashid of Reni Pani Jungle Lodge said that the cancellations in bookings took place between July and August when the ban was imposed. "Another six days will not impact the business as such," he said.