Supreme Court lifts ban on tiger tourism

Directs states to prepare tiger conservation plans in six months

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Tuesday 16 October 2012

The Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted the ban imposed by it on tourism in core tiger habitats. The order was given on the basis of the notification of the eco-tourism guidelines by the Centre the day before. The guidelines say that up to 20 per cent of core zones of tiger reserves can be opened up for tourism. The court had banned tourism in the core areas of tiger reserves in July this year on a public interest petition that pleaded that critical tiger habitats should be kept inviolate of all types of human disturbances, including tourism.

The court has asked all the state governments to strictly follow the notified guidelines. In the previous hearings, state governments including Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, had urged the court to lift the ban because it was hurting religious tourism inside the reserves and the economy of state with the tourism season beginning on October 1.

During the previous hearing on the matter last week, the Court had asked the Centre to notify the guidelines within a week. The court clarified that this was not a final order and that if any party is aggrieved by the notification of the guidelines, these could be challenged in court. The order said that the court is not holding the guidelines as intra vires or ultra vires. The court noted that state governments are required to prepare tiger conservation plans and asked them to do so within six months. The next date for the court hearing is November 27.

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