SC lifts ban on tourism in core tiger reserve areas

New Delhi, Oct 16: The Supreme Court Tuesday lifted its ban on tourism-related activities in core areas of tiger reserves and allowed the use of up to 20 percent of the critical habitat of the big cats for the purpose.

An apex court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar lifted the ban imposed July 24 after the court was informed that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Monday notified the new guidelines having provision for tourism activities in 20 percent of the core area.

The apex court Oct 9 asked the government to notify its new guidelines before it could modify its July 24 order banning tourism activities in core tiger habitat.

Following strong reactions by some states on the apex court ban, the central government sought the modification of guidelines relating to tourism activities in tiger reserves.

The central government Sep 26 filed an affidavit urging the apex court to relax its ban and permit tourism activities in 20 percent of the core tiger reserve areas.

Keeping in mind the importance of tourism in tiger conservation, “it is recommended that a maximum of 20 percent of the core/critical tiger habitat usage (not exceeding the present usage) for regulated, low-impact tourism may be permitted”, the affidavit said.

“Non-consumptive regulated, low impact tourism, could be permitted within the core/critical tiger habitat without in any way compromising the spirit of core/critical tiger habitat for tiger conservation,” the central government said.

While lifting the ban, the court directed the state governments to prepare their tiger conservation plan within in six months and submit it to the NTCA for approval.