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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dudhwa likely to miss Nov 15 date with tourists

TNN | Nov 1, 2012, 04.41AM IST LUCKNOW: With just 15 days remaining for the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve to reopen for tourists, forest officials are not sure they will be able to do so. Every year, the park closes on April 15 and opens up for tourism on November 15, after six months closure during monsoons. But this time, the UP forest department is not sure whether it will be able to keep the deadline as it is yet to work on the new set of guidelines sent by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to all the tiger-states, including UP, to regulate tourism inside national parks. Tourism inside core areas of tiger reserves was banned by the Supreme Court in July owing to the fact that it was jeopardizing the safety of tigers, not more than 1,700 of which remain today. However, on October 16, the apex court lifted its interim ban on tourism inside core areas of tiger reserves, after NTCA framed and notified guidelines for tiger tourism under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The guidelines permit tourism in 20% area of the core of the tiger reserves. "We have received the new guidelines only two days back and are scrutinizing them word by word," said Rupak De, PCCF (wildlife), UP. Though the officers are trying to complete the process as soon as possible, since the matter pertains to compliance with the SC order, meeting the November 15 deadline is a secondary issue. "We can talk more clearly on this may be in a day or two," added De. So far, the entire core area of Dudhwa, comprising 117 square kilometre of Dudhwa and 80 square kilometre of Kishenpur sanctuary, was open for tourists. But, this time around, the reach of the tourists will be restricted. Forest department is yet to identify the areas which will be open to tourists, after the implementation of new guidelines. Though this might reduce the chance to spot a tiger in the wild, the department plans to add to the tourists' experiences by way of improved hospitality. After chief minister's active interest in developing Dudhwa as a better tourist hub, UP Awas Vikas Parishad has re-done the Tharu huts and rest houses at the tiger reserve. The accommodation has been provided with better furniture and improved interiors. Approach roads have also been renovated on the directions of the government. On the other hand, in compliance with the Supreme Court's order, the forest department this year has also notified the buffer area in the Dudhwa National Park. Nearly 1,100 square kilometre has been notified as buffer in the park. Tourism in buffer area also needs to be regulated. Officially notifying the buffer also requires Dudhwa authorities to plan for the management and development of the buffer area. This, in turn, will increase the area for movement of tigers. Dudhwa tigers are distributed in one major and three smaller populations. Major population is constituted by Dudhwa reserve which includes Dudhwa National Park, Kishenpur and Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuaries and forests of Pilibhit, north and south Kheri.

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