Officials of the four Tiger Reserves – Parambikulam in Kerala and Anamalai, Muthumalai and Kalakkadu in Tamil Nadu have decided to reopen them for tourism next week after implementing the new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court on using 20 per cent of the area for eco-tourism.
In a meeting held at Parambikulam on Thursday, the officials from the two States - the Kerala side led by Wildlife Warden of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, K. Vijayanandan, and Tamil Nadu side by Chief Conservator of Forest Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Rajeev Sreevastava met.
These Tiger Reserves were closed for tourists for the last three months after the Supreme Court had banned tourism in the core areas of the Tiger Reserve in July. In the officials meeting it was decided to form an Advisory Committee for every Tiger Reserve as per the new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.
Mr. Vijayanandan said that the Tamil Nadu officials who had inspected the arrangements made for tourists in Parambikulam wanted to replicate them in their three Tiger Reserves especially the most successful Eco-Development Society and Eco-Shops of Parambikulam that helped tribal empowerment and protection of the Reserve.
He said that the closing down of tourism in Parambikulam had affected nearly 300 tribal families living in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve area in the District. But during this period the Forest Department used them for various protection activities in Parambikulam.
He added that though Parambikulam Tiger Reserve was conducting tourism only in the buffer zone it had to be closed down after the Supreme Court order banning tourism in core area because there is no direct road access from Kerala side to Parambikulam. The State has to use the road passing through the core areas of Annamalai Tiger Reserve to reach Parambikulam. This had created the problem of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve tourism activities.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has a tribal population of 1200 in 276 families spread over six colonies. Thus the latest Supreme Court order approving the tourism plan in Tiger Reserves have come as a big relief to the tribal population and the tourists from different parts of the country and outside coming to the Tiger Reserve, Mr. Vijayanandan said.