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Monday, September 3, 2012

Tourism in core areas ban will up poaching, fears forest minister

Bagish K Jha, TNN | Sep 2, 2012, 12.38PM IST INDORE: Tourism acts as shield for wild animals. Tigers and other wild animals are safe only because of tourism. "As such, a complete ban on tourism in core areas of reserve forests will increase poaching," fears Madhya Pradesh forest minister Sartaj Singh. The minister was in the city to inaugurate a girl's hostel of forest department for its employee's kids, on Saturday. Singh said that his ministry has taken several measures against poaching and it was bearing good results of late. "Presence of tourist and forest department officials helps keep a day-to-day watch on the number of tigers and wild animals and their movements. Their absence, however, will encourage poachers. It will not be possible to station a forest guard in every corner of the forest," Singh said. Singh said that as of now, the matter pertaining to ban on tourism in core areas of reserve forests is with the Supreme Court and the apex court has directed the union government to come up with new guidelines for tourism in the core areas. "We have filed our reply on August 29 and next hearing is on September 27 when the court will decide its further course of action. We have submitted our suggestions to the committee of union government which will formulate the new guidelines of tourism in core areas," he said. He said that forests and reserve forests in MP are in better shape and the number of tigers is increasing. "Buffer zones of reserve forests across the state have been notified. The buffer zone notification of Panna National Park has been done on August 13 as per the guidelines of the court," he said. Taking a dig at Gujarat government that had denied to shift a lion of Gir alleging rampant poaching in Madhya Pradesh, Singh said that Gujarat government was raising the issue of poaching as it did not want MP to have the lion. "We have contented that for survival of the species, it would be good to have their presence in different geographical areas," he said. Tiger tourism is one of the main attractions of tourism in MP and is one of the major sources of revenue generation for Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) that owns several hotels and guest houses in and around the forest areas. It also provides direct and indirect employment to a large number of people across the state.

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