Till then ban on tourism in core tiger habitats will prevail
The Supreme Court has given the Centre four more weeks to reconsider its guidelines on tourism in and around tiger reserves. It has also asked the government to constitute an expert panel to review the guidelines that called for phasing out tourism from core tiger habitats and imposing a 10 per cent conservation cess on hotels and resorts.
The guidelines were finalised by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and presented to the court last month. The court had then ordered an interim ban on tourism in core tiger zones on July 24 while inviting comments from stakeholders on the guidelines.
The ministry, however, changed its stance in the court on August 22, asking the court to allow it review the guidelines. The court had then pulled up the ministry for the flip-flop.
On August 29, the government roped in Goolam Vahanvati, the attorney general of India, to present its case. Vahanvati argued that the law allows the National Tiger Conservation Authority under MoEF to lay down normative standards for tourism activities from time to time for tiger conservation in the buffer and core area of tiger reserves. He urged that the government thus be allowed to review the current guidelines.
Accepting his plea the bench of justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar ordered that the ministry should come up with the reviewed guidelines in the next hearing on September 27 after taking all the stakeholders on board. The objections to the guidelines can be directly submitted to the ministry. Till then the ban on tourism in core tiger habitats will continue.
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