HC notice on PIL alleging excessive tourism in TATR

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Aug 2017 10:07:36


Staff Reporter,

Against 125 vehicles allowed to enter in Tadoba from various gates daily, 905 more vehicles were illegally permitted by forest officials in April-June 2015, the PIL states

Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued notice to forest authorities on a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging excessive tourism, violation of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines in the matter of “tourism plan,” non publishing of Tiger Conservation Plan, in the famous Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR).

A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Arun Upadhye, while hearing the PIL filed by activist Avinash Prabhune, issued notice to Principle Secretary Forest Department, PCCF (Wildlife), NTCA and Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Petitioner claimed that statutory and mandatory guidelines issued by the NTCA on October 15, 2012 following various interim orders passed by Supreme Court, are being blatantly violated and primacy is being given to “excessive tourism” than tiger conservation.

According to petitioner, 125 vehicles can be allowed to enter Tadoba from various gates everyday. But it was found and observed that 905 more vehicles were illegally permitted by forest officials in April-June 2015, which is a heavy rush season for tourists due to near certain probability of tiger sighting and December (during winter session). The petitioner claimed that in the name of VIP entry, a lot of vehicles are being allowed arbitrarily, violating formulated ceiling of tourist vehicles. The Forest department has failed to even publish the Tiger Conservation Plan on their web-site in spite of five years of NTCA guidelines, the PIL claimed.

Even “Local Advisory Committee” is required to be constituted u/a 2.1.9 of the NTCA guidelines dated October 15, 2012. The Minutes of Meeting of said LAC headed by Divisional Commissioner were not published on web-site till date, the PIL claimed while apprehending that excessive tourism would be detrimental to interests of tiger. In spite of the NTCA recommendation, village “Bhamdeli” has not been included in Tiger Conservation Plan in the TATR for protecting tourism.

The petitioner has demanded action against the erring forest officials who have violated the NTCA guidelines issued under Section 38-O of the Wildlife Protection Act 1976.

Adv Tushar Mandlekar with Adv Rohan Malviya argued for petitioner. ASGI Adv Ulhas Aurangabadkar (Union of India), Adv Mugdha Chandurkar (NTCA) waived notice for respondents. AGP Ketki Joshi appeared for Forest Department.