The Supreme Court Wednesday restrained authorities from carrying out any construction within core areas in tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
The apex court did not appreciate the setting up of zoos and safaris inside tiger reserves and national parks.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Vikram Nath asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to file a response explaining the necessity of having safaris in national parks.
The top court was dealing with a matter raising issues such as alleged illegal constructions in tiger reserves and the establishment of a tiger safari in the buffer area of Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand.
“Until further orders we restrain the authorities from doing any construction within the core areas notified in tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries,” the bench said.
The bench was also informed about a report submitted by an apex court-constituted panel, Central Empowered Committee (CEC), in which it has asked the Union Environment Ministry to amend or withdraw guidelines related to setting up zoos and safaris within tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries to discourage the use of wildlife habitats for tourism activities which are non-site specific.
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CEC, in its report, has also said that approvals given for setting up zoos and safaris within tiger reserves and protected areas should be withdrawn forthwith.
The bench said, “Prima facie we do not appreciate the necessity of zoos inside tiger reserves and national parks.”
CEC has said in the report that wildlife tourism through the establishment of safaris and zoos forms an important component of conservation efforts, including tourism connected with endangered species of wildlife in educating the masses.
“But the location of such safaris and zoos shall not endanger the life of the natural population and eco-tourism and wildlife education should not be at the cost of survival of the endangered species. It should also not result in shrinkage of the already limited habitat available to such endangered species,” it said.
The apex court is dealing with applications, including the one raising the issue of alleged illegal felling of trees in the name of establishment of tiger safari in Gujjar Sot, Pakhrau Block, Sonanadi Range, Kalagarh Division, Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who has filed one of the applications, has raised the issue of alleged illegal construction of buildings and water bodies by way of cutting trees illegally in Saneh Forest Rest House towards Pakhrao Forest Rest House, Pakhrau Forest Rest House towards Morghatti Forest Rest House, and Morghatti Forest Rest House towards Kalagarh Forest Rest House.