Within days of the Supreme Court order lifting the ban on tourism in tiger areas, the Madhya Pradesh government directed tiger reserve directors to allow tourism in tiger reserves.
The apex court on October 16 has issued an order allowing resumption of tourism activity in 41 tiger reserves in India on the condition that they should be as per the new guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority notified a day earlier. “Henceforth, tourism activities will be strictly in accordance with the guidelines,” the court had said.
Madhya Pradesh's principal chief conservator of forests P K Shukla on October 19 instructed directors of all tiger reserves, except Kanha, asking them to resume tourism as per the carrying capacity of core areas decided by his department on December 26, 2007.
“It is made clear that the guideline is applicable for entire day,” his letter said, adding that the reserves will have to decide the number of tourist vehicles to be allowed in morning and evening hours as per the 2007 guideline.
In case of Kanha, Shukla’s letter said, tourism area should be earmarked as per the directions issued in September 2011, which allows tourism in around 37% of the core area. The NTCA guideline has said tourism should not be allowed in more than 20% of the core area and in reserves it should be brought down to 20% in five years.
Ajay Dubey, who had filed PIL in the SC seeking a ban on tourism activity inside core areas, said the state order violates court’s directions. “I will file a contempt suit if the government does not modify its orders,” he said.
The MP government has, however, referred to the NTCA guidelines with regard to regulating tourism activity inside tiger habitats.