The operators of safaris in the tiger reserves of the state are in a tizzy after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has come up with a new formula of calculating tourism carrying capacity inside the reserves that is likely to affect the number of both gypsies and canters.
The new formula has been prepared “to ensure minimal disturbance to the core/critical tiger habitat (CTH) of tiger reserves” and states having tigers have been asked to comply with it, stated an official order of the authority.
Earlier, the authority had fixed the tourism carrying capacity based on a six-seater gypsy and the number of vehicles was accordingly decided for a tiger reserve. But it was learnt that the same model was applied to vehicles of higher seating capacity like canters, said Assistant inspector general (NTCA) Vaibhav C Mathur in an official order on September 7.
As per the new formula, tourist carrying capacity of a canter would be considered on the basis of a gypsy. For instance, if a canter carries 20 persons then it would be considered equivalent to three gypsies and the total number of vehicles allowed inside the reserve would be fixed.
In the Ranthambhore tiger reserve (RTR), 40 vehicles - 20 canters and 20 gypsies - are allowed per trip and there are two trips a day. As per new formula, a canter equals to three gypsies. Thus, the vehicle allowance crosses the present permissible limit.
More vehicles with increased seating capacity “cause greater impact on the core tiger habitat (CTH) in terms of erosion, air and noise pollution”, along with higher space requirements vis-à-vis distance between vehicles, stated the order flagged to all chief wildlife wardens of tiger range states.
Deputy conservator of forest at Ranthambhore tiger reserve, Sudarshan Sharma said the new formula will not make much of a difference in the existing set-up.
“The focus of NTCA seems to be on decreasing the number of vehicles. It is likely to affect canter operators but number of gypsies may also be decreased as a canter carries more tourists in one go. We will study the new formula and decide on next course of action,” said Bharat Lal Meena, president of Ranthambhore Jungle Safari Vehicle Owner Union.
Canter owners had earlier faced problems in 2010 when NTCA banned plying of diesel canters citing increasing pollution. More than 60 diesel canters were grounded after the order.