A high-powered committee constituted to frame guidelines on tourism in tiger reserves has recommended regulated tourist activity in 20% of the core areas and a ban on construction of new resorts within the critical habitat.
Demarcation of the 20% would be by the local advisory committee (LAC) headed by the divisional commissioner. The other recommendations, aimed at striking a balance between wildlife conservation and promotion of tourism, include charging a conservation fee from the tourism industry for eco-development and upliftment of local community.
The report submitted to Supreme Court by National Tiger Conservation Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) also recommended phasing out of existing resorts. Until then, there would be strict regulation of the structures so that they adhere to low ecological impacts.
"Regulated tourism results in enhanced awareness and is of educational value especially for the younger generation. Non-consumptive regulated, low-impact tourism could be permitted within core/critical tiger habitat without in any way compromising the sprit of core/critical tiger habitat for tiger conservation," stated the report filed by MoEF counsel Haris Beeran. The report was placed before a bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar that would it up Thursday.
Battery operated vehicles to minimize pollution and restricted entry of tourists would be in place once the recommendations get court approval. According to the committee transparent advance booking system to control entry of tourists and vehicles in the core area must be established and violators must be penalized.
Due to the variability in breeding tigress territory size and thus breeding tiger density, the committee has suggested the core area could be between 800 to 1200 km.
If tourism in core areas exceeds 20%, the LAC may fix a timeframe for bringing down the usage. "Existing as well as new tourist facilities must aim to generate at least 50% of their total energy and fuel requirements from alternate energy sources that may include solar and biogas," stated the guidelines.It added the conservation fee to be charged from commercial establishments in the core area could be decided on the number of beds, the duration of its operation and on a luxury classification system such as home stay to high end. The suggested fee structure may range between Rs. 500 to Rs. 3000 per room per month. A proper plan for disposal for degradable waste needs to be developed and strictly implemented, the committee suggested.