Tourist resorts near tiger reserves to pay 10% cess
Resorts within five kilometers of tiger reserves will have to pay 10% cess even though tourists will not be allowed inside core critical tiger zones. Chetan Chauhan reports.delhi Updated: May 17, 2012 01:08 IST
Resorts within five kilometers of tiger reserves will have to pay 10% cess even though tourists will not be allowed inside core critical tiger zones.
The new guidelines based on a set of recommendations of a committee of experts of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) says that tourism will be allowed in fringe areas of tiger reserves through special safaris. "These safaris will be regulated by state forest departments," a senior government official said.
The environment ministry is all set to inform Supreme Court this week that tourism activity inside core areas --- having 60 % of 1,706 Indian tigers, would be prohibited as per new guidelines. This is being done to make core areas inviolate (aloof) for tigers.
The guidelines had become imperative as various studies had suggested that inviolate areas of minimum 800-1,000 square kms is must if India wants to sustain tiger population of about 1,500 tigers. Also, studies have shown that human interference causes problems in breeding as happening in Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan.
The exhaustive guidelines also prescribe a minimum cess of 10%, called conservation cess, on the total turnover of the tourist resorts around 41 tiger reserves in India. The government, however, did not agree to increasing the cess to 30 % as suggested by Tiger Task Force report of 2006.
The money to be generated will have to be deposited in the account of tiger foundation and used for tiger conservation and welfare of people in and around tiger reserves.
The guidelines also prescribe that the state governments could charge higher than 10 % of cess, if they want, depending on the local needs. With this money in hand, each tiger reserves will have to formulate eco-tourism development plan for providing employment avenues to locals.
The guidelines also provide for a structure to monitor the use of funds generated though the cess at the reserve and the state government level.
To further provide funds to tiger reserve, the government would be debarring sharing of entry ticket, which account for about 30 % of total budget of popular tiger reserve such as Corbett Tiger Reserve, with the revenue department of the state governments.
The government has also proposed to impose restriction on construction of any kind around tiger reserves to protect the buffer zones, which house about 40 % of the 1,706 tigers in India. Incentives will be provided to close existing tourism resorts in the buffer zone, officials said.
The Supreme Court last month had asked the NTCA to submit the proposed guidelines in a case related to banning tourism activity inside core areas in Madhya Pradesh. The next hearing of the case is slated for July.