New community driven tourism guidelines for 600 wildlife areas prescribed | delhi | Hindustan Times
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New community driven tourism guidelines for 600 wildlife areas prescribed

Not just the tourism operators around India’s 600 protected areas and pilgrimage places inside forests will have to pay 10 % as eco-tax, they will have to comply with new green rules to run business.

delhi Updated: Jul 13, 2012 01:21 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Not just the tourism operators around India’s 600 protected areas and pilgrimage places inside forests will have to pay 10 % as eco-tax, they will have to comply with new green rules to run business.

The Environment ministry this week submitted detailed guidelines for ecotourism in and around protected areas in the Supreme Court stating it will encourage “community based” and “community driven” ecotourism. The guidelines are in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by Madhya Pradesh based RTI activist Ajay Dubey seeking prohibition of tourism inside tiger reserves.

Although the ministry has not suggested banning of tourism, it admitted that there has been mushrooming of tourist facilities around wildlife sanctuaries and parks which leading to “exploitation, degradation, disturbance and misuse of fragile ecosystems”.

As a protective measure, the ministry’ National Tiger Conservation Authority has prescribed the zone for the community based tourism activity within core-critical wildlife areas including tiger reserves. It is 10 % of core area, which is less than 500 sq kms and 20 % for others. The guidelines also make demarcation of core and buffer zones mandatory for each protected area.

To prevent further damage to ecosystems, the ministry wants the state governments to levy a minimum tax of 10 of the turnover on all tourism facilities within five kilometers of the protected area, which will have to be spent for conservation measures and community empowerment.

The tourism establishment falling within five kms of the protected area will have to be phased out in the next five years. Till they are phased out, they will have to comply with noise pollution regulations, they will not be allowed to dispose waste around protected areas and will have put a check on number of vehicles entering protected areas.

As general policy guidelines, each tourism facility will have to source 50 % of energy from renewable sources including wind, solar and biogas and will not be allowed to use wood, except for camp fires. Visit to temples inside forests should be allowed only on certain days in the year and in a controlled manner, the guidelines say.

The ministry has also provides for a state-level monitoring agency to ensure that the guidelines are implemented. The state level steering committee will need to have representatives of local communities, forest dwellers that live in and around these protected areas and representatives of civil society organizations.