Good news for wildlife enthusiasts. Two-and-a-half months after the Supreme Court prohibited tourism in core areas of tiger reserves, the top court on Tuesday lifted the ban. The order came a day after the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) issued fresh guidelines on tiger conservation in the 41 reserves.
But the order came with a rider. A bench of justice AK Patnaik and justice Swatanter Kumar cautioned that tourist activity should be in accordance with the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) notified guidelines, which permit regulated tourism only in 20% of the core areas. Tourist facilities located inside the critical tiger habitats will also be phased out within five years.
The court gave six months to the local bodies to prepare a tiger conservation plan and submit it to the NTCA.
The court order will provide some respite to resort owners, since October marks the start of tourist season in most reserves. The resorts were forced to stop business after the July 24 ban order.