Eco-tourism plan for Kanha tiger reserve in trouble

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has rejected the eco-tourism plan of Kanha tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh, which may prove a setback to the State government’s effort to boost tourism.

The State government had submitted a revised eco-tourism plan for Kanha tiger reserve to the NTCA seeking its mandatory approval for increasing tourism—related activities there.

“The committee decided that the tiger conservation plan of the Kanha tiger reserve, which inter alia includes an eco-tourism plan, has already been approved and as such the need for a revised tourism plan was not felt, especially when there is a proposed apparent rise in tourism activity which is in contravention of the normative guidelines issued by the NTCA,” according to the minutes of the meeting of authority’s technical committee.

Kanha tiger reserve, which is about 350 km from State capital Bhopal, is one of the most popular destinations for wildlife enthusiasts.

The NTCA cited a Supreme Court verdict in support of its decision of “not recommending” the eco-tourism plan for Kanha.

“It is a good step by NTCA. We have been warning all State governments to strictly follow Supreme Court guidelines for all tiger reserves under them,” said Ajay Dubey, wildlife activist. Mr Dubey was also the petitioner in a case that led to historic verdict of the apex court that restricted tourism in tiger reserves.

As per latest tiger census report, there are about 2,226 big cats in various reserves of the country, up from 1,706 in 2010 and 1,411 in 2006.

Of these, about 308 tigers are in Madhya Pradesh, the third highest in the country after Karnataka’s 406 and Uttarakhand’s 340. -- PTI

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