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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Supreme Court to decide fate of tourism in core area on March 13

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Mar 6, 2012, 04.52AM IST NAGPUR: The fate of tourism in core areas of tiger reserves will be finally decided by the Supreme Court on March 13. The case has got a new twist after one of the leading NGOs Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) intervening in the matter. On February 14, the double bench of Justice Dalbir Bhandhari and Justice Deepak Mishra heard the petition filed by Bhopal-based environment protection NGO Prayatna. "Our plea demanding ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves has raised positive hopes with WTI filing an intervene application," said Ajay Dubey, secretary of Prayatna. Meanwhile, an affidavit filed on behalf of Madhya Pradesh government by JS Chouhan, field director of Kanha Tiger Reserve, supports tourism in core areas. The affidavit submits that conservation is, primarily, to reduce competition between wildlife and human beings for the resources on which both are dependent. This is being achieved by relocating villages from the tiger habitats as well as by imposing restrictions on grazing, collection of fuel wood, minor forest produce (MFP) collection etc. by the people living close to these areas. The affidavit further states that wildlife tourism does not require exploitation of' resources (biomass) on which wildlife depends for its survival and propagation. Therefore, it cannot be kept in the same category as other human activities. "Wildlife tourism, if practiced sensitively and carefully, will have minimal impact on wildlife and its habitat. The state government has developed necessary safeguards to regulate tourism and minimise adverse impact on wildlife habitats," says the affidavit. On the contrary, in its reply to the Supreme Court, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has admitted that there should not be any kind of tourism in the core area, and if at all it is being carried out, it is illegal. Prayatna had filed a PIL in September 2010. "Tiger shows with the help of elephant in tiger reserves across Madhya Pradesh cannot be justified as sensible tourism," flayed Haseeb Badar, a wildlife lover. Now all eyes are on the Supreme Court verdict which will finally decide the petition on implementing ban on all kinds of tourism in core and critical tiger habitats (CTHs). The decision will have repercussions on all the parks in India. Tab on Tadoba tourists After severe violations by a section of tourists in Pandharpaoni area in Tadao-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) on February 29, the park management has imposed restrictions on tourists in the sensitive Pandharpaoni. Tourists are now not being allowed to stay for a long time at one spot. "We have banned entry to the driver of the gypsy that rushed towards the tiger sitting on the road. Besides, entry to vehicles jumping the road will be banned. We are identifying these vehicles," said assistant conservator of forests (ACF) Ajay Pillariseth. A staff vehicle is stationed at Pandharpaoni to keep a tab on rowdy tourists, he said.

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