Ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves continued even as the Supreme Court on Wednesday heard objections and suggestions to the newly formulated guidelines on eco tourism. The court has fixed October 9 as the next date for hearing in the case.
Appearing for the government of MP, senior counsel, Vivek Tankha opposed the provision in the guidelines on eco tourism that prohibits increase in the area where tourism in permissible in a tiger reserve. The counsel said that reserves where tourism area is less than 20 % should be allowed to increase the tourism area to 20% which is the cap fixed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The NTCA has in its guidelines fixed 20% as the maximum area possible for tourism in a tiger reserve but also put a rider that the area can't be increased in reserves, where it is less than 20%.
Tankha also suggested that the local advisory committee to be set up in accordance with the guidelines should have the Superintendent of Police, chief executive officer of the district panchayat and regional officer of the pollution control board as its members.
Counsel for the Kanha Lodges Association, Ravindra Shrivastava told the court that local asvisory committee to be formed under the guidelines should have the power to decide on the area open for tourism. He said that the 20 % cap should be looked into for revision and that the carrying capacity of the parks should also be determined by the local advisory committee. The next date of hearing in the case has been fixed for October 9.
The Supreme Court while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Ajay Dubey of Prayatna had imposed a ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves on July 24. Tiger reserves in MP are as it is closed for the monsoon season from July 1 to October 15. The court has said that it would decide on lifting of the ban after the finalisation of guidelines on eco tourism. The ban has adversely affected the business of lodges and hotels catering to wildlife tourism, claim travel agents and owners of such properties.