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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SC ban on tourism in national parks: Guides, hotel owners worried

Rachna Singh, TNN | Jul 25, 2012, 05.07AM IST JAIPUR: The tiger town of Sawai Madhopur is in disbelief over the Supreme Court order banning tourism in the core areas of national parks in the country. The little town thrives only on account of tiger tourism that gives livelihood to many like the guides, drivers to the chain of hotels and the handicraft industry. In the past few years, Ranthambore saw quick proliferation of hotels, lodges and rented accommodations, all catering to the tiger safari in the reserve. "At the moment there are 40-50 small and big hotels in Ranthambore and about 50 more are in various stages of construction. With an inventory of 2,000 rooms today, the place is expected to get another 500 rooms in near future," said Balendu Singh, a local hotelier and an honorary wildlife warden. While stressing on the fact that this is only an interim order, Balendu said: "National Tiger Conservation Authority has been lobbying for a ban on tourism in the core area. If this comes around, it would affect eight districts in the state, namely Alwar (Sariska), Dausa, Dholpur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur, Baran, Chittorgarh and Kota where tiger ranges fall in." Echoing the same, Yadevendra Singh, president of guides association said: "The government with their limited resources cannot save the tiger. Tiger tourism is as big in Rajasthan as monument tourism in other places. With so much awareness about the tiger, importance of bio-diversity, conservation, tourism has increased leaps and bounds contributing directly or indirectly to the cause of the tiger." "If 20 years back, there were only four gypsies that went into the forest, today even 40 are less. Today there are 104 guides, 300 vehicle owners and drivers and over 2000-3000 people who are directly or indirectly associated with the industry that are dependent on the tiger. It is in our interest to ensure that the tiger and its habitat are maintained," said Yadevendra.

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