SC notice to NTCA on banning tourism in core area
NAGPUR, Monday 1st August 2011

Enlivening hopes to ban tourism in core zones and critical tiger habitats (CTHs) of reserves, the Supreme Court (SC) issued notice to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Madhya Pradesh government. The notices were waived on a special leave petition (SLP) filed by Advocate Gaurav Agrawal on Friday on behalf of Ajay Dubey of Prayatna, a Bhopal-based NGO working for environment protection for a decade.

"The SC has granted three weeks' time to respondents NTCA and the MP government to file their replies," Dubey told TOI.

The SLP was filed against the interim order of January 19, 2011 passed by the Jabalpur high court rejecting Dubey's prayer for barring all kinds of commercial tourism, hotelling and other human activities in the core and critical areas as notified in the tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh.

The Jabalpur high court had ruled that tourism is not prohibited in the tiger reserves but is permitted subject to normative standards laid down by the NTCA. Keeping parks inviolate for the purposes of tiger conservation does not indicate banning of tourism.

The court had ruled that the word 'inviolate' used also does not imply complete prohibition or banning of tourism.

Inviolate is defined by approved lexicographers to mean 'unhurt', unpolluted and unbroken.

However, Dubey says the word 'inviolate' has to be read in toto i.e. after notification of the core or CTH by the government, the areas should kept as inviolate for tiger conservation. 'Inviolate' means without any disturbance by human beings. Tourism activity in such areas would mean violation of the NTCA guidelines.

The necessity for filing the writ petition had arisen because Madhya Pradesh, which is home to two-third of tiger population of the country, has in recent years, witnessed an unfortunate and sudden decline of tigers with the government succumbing to private and commercial interests.

Dubey had filed a PIL on banning tourism in core areas on September 8, 2010. Supreme Court has now brightened hope.